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Indian History and Culture 1808 to 1905 AD Part 2 by K M Munshi, founder Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

  • This precis cover 1808 to 1905 and covers in some detail Hindu Muslim relations in the 19th century, changes in religious and social ideas, growth of new types of literature, rise of the Press and state of slavery and semi-slavery of Indians.

Shri V Balachandran (ex-Special Secretary Cabinet Secretariat) wrote in The Tribune Neglecting cultural czar Munshi’s efforts This goaded me to do a precis of Foreword of 11 Volumes of The History and Culture of Indian People. The books are a masterpiece & constant reference book. 

Shri K M Munshi was an educationist, freedom fighter, founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (1938), author and worked closely with Sardar Patel. He initiated the writing of The History and Culture of the Indian People. Shri R.C. Majumdar was General Editor. A.K. Majumdar and D.K Ghose were Assistant Editors of Vol 10. It was first published in 1965, third edition 1991.  


K M Munshiji said, “That although efforts to prepare this massive history-writing had started in 1938, it could assume concrete shape only in 1944 with generous help from GD Birla and the Shri Krishnarpan Charity Trust.”


Precis is split in parts. Each part has a number and title that represents content. Let us hope these books become part of the mainstream educational system. 


Part 1 covered period 1000-1300 and includes state of Indian society around 1000, why did it survive the earlier 2,000 years, status of Sanskrit, social impact of Muslim invasions, why lower strata of society adopted Islam, South Indian kings, rise of Desabhashas and Bhakti.


Part 2 covers period 1300 to 1526. It tells did Khilji/Tughluq rule all of India, Timur invasion, what is common between Timur and Vasco da gama, Religious Life then, Impact of Islam, Religious life and Language Literature and did Muslim or Hindu ruler of Orissa support Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.


Part 3 covers 1526-1707 i.e. Mughals. It includes Mughal rule esp. intolerance towards Hindus, warrior Hemu and Tansen.


Part 4 covers 1707-1818. It includes Political situation post Aurangzeb and rise of the Marathas, Changes due to influence of Western World and Economic exploitation of India by British.


Part 5 covers 1818 to 1905 (Part 1). It includes Characteristics of British rule, History from a British standpoint/Famines-Poverty, Was British Empire in India an accident and three events that require attention.


Part 6 covers 1818 to 1905 (Part 2).  It includes Hindu Muslim relations in the 19th century, changes in religious and social ideas, growth of new types of literature, rise of the Press and state of slavery and semi-slavery of Indians.


My only contribution is doing a precis of the preface. This piece is courtesy the publisher Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mumbai.


British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance (1818-1905) Part 2-Preface by Dr R.C. Majumdar

“While Vol IX deals with the political and economic history from 1818 to 1905, this volume deals with the other aspects of Indian life during the same period with Renaissance as its central theme. It includes some of the prominent aspects of the Renaissance such a change in religious and social ideas, growth of new types of literature and rise of the Press. The most important aspect of the Renaissance, namely, political organization and development of nationalism is dealt with extensively. They supply background of political evolution.


This volume deals with the state of slavery and semi-slavery to which a large number of Indians were reduced at home and abroad, by Englishmen who took the concept from other of their dominions. The miserable lots of the Indian slaves overseas served as an incentive to India’s struggle for freedom. The British authors of Indian history were not interested in above topics.


The delineation of Hindu-Muslim and Indo-British relations presents a peculiar difficulty. The editor reminds readers that courage to face the truth, however, unpleasant, paves the way for better understanding in future.


It is very remarkable that the Renaissance in India was not marked by an efflorescence of art as we notice in Europe. The Bengal School of painting was founded by Rabindra-nath Tagore has justly been described by Dr. Cooraswamy as a phase of national re-awakening’. The fine stone of bronze images which we find in different arts of India were almost all imported from Europe, and the few buildings which may claim any architectural evidence are based on European model and mostly designed by European architects.” End of quote.


The chapters in this volume include English Education, Impact of Western Culture, New Religious Ideas, Literature, The Press, Social Reform, British Policy towards India, Attitude of Indians towards British Rule, Growth of Political Ideas and Political Organizations, Birth of Nationalism and Indian Serfs and Slaves in the British Empire.


The above excerpts are courtesy and copyright the publisher the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulapati K.M. Munshi Marg, Mumbai-400007, India. eSamskriti has obtained permission to share from the Editorial Advisory Board of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Kalbelia Dancer, Hungarian Muslim. Jaisalmer 2013.  

Since Preface short sharing key points from chapter on Hindu-Muslim relations.


Hindu Muslim relations in the 19th century

It must be admitted that the roots of the cleavage lay deep in the soil and it was already manifest even in the 19th century. The British exploited the differences to serve their interests.


Differences between the elites grew even before fillip was given to it either by the Aligarh Movement or the Divide and Rule policy of the British. Relations between the masses though normally cordial and calm on the surface had not lost their tendency to erupt.


In October 1809, a Hindu mob in Kashi destroyed mosques and killed Muslims. In 1820, the Muslims assaulted a Durga Puja procession in Calcutta. Communal riots during the outbreak of 1857 have been noted above. Hindu Muslim riots with heavy casualties occurred in Bareilly and other localities in U.P. during 1871-72. Due to the writings of a Parsis, that hurt the Muslims, the community was attacked.


Communal riots grew in volume and frequency, particularly between 1885 and 1893. It is perhaps not unreasonable to assume that this increased tension between the communities was a direct consequence of the growing cleavage between their leaders.


Thus, towards about 1905 Hindus and Muslims represented almost two opposite camps in politics, the ground was prepared throughout the 19th century, by the communal outlook of the Muslims, both in their general political evolution as well as in the Wahabi and Aligarh movements. Muslim political ideas were inspired purely by Muslim interests.


Having said that, it must be remembered that two movements referred to above did not represent the Muslim community as a whole. Masses were mostly indifferent and number of distinguished Muslims co-operated in political matters with Hindus. Secondly, if the Muslims were communal and lacking in an all India outlook, the Hindus were partly responsible. While all-India outlook was not altogether absent, there was general feeling among large sections of Hindus and Muslims that they formed two separate political units or nations.


Third, it must be understood why Hindus imbibed a truly national spirit. Hindus had a start of atleast half a century over Muslims in their political evolution. Muslims worried that in any democratic set up they would occupy secondary importance. This fear worked upon the minds of Muslims in comparatively minor matters like recruitment to higher posts through open competitive examination, advocated by Hindus. It was opposed by Muslims because they knew Hindus were more advanced in education.


Aside, did Muslims or anyone ever think of the condition of Hindus during Muslim rule? This is hardly spoken about to this day.


The condition of Muslims was best stated by a liberal, R M Sayani in his Presidential address at the 12th session of the Congress held in 1896. Excerpts, “Before the advent of the British in India, the Muslims were the rulers of the country. The rulers and their chiefs were Muslims so were the great landlords and officials. The court language was their own (Persian was the official language of India till 1842). Every place of trust and responsibility, or carrying influence and high emoluments, was theirs by birth right. The Hindus did occupy the same position but were tenants-at-will of the Muslims. The Muslims had complete access to the rulers and chief. The Hindus were in awe of them. By a stroke of misfortune, the Muslims had to abdicate their position and descend to the level of their Hindu fellow-countrymen. The Muslims resented the treatment.

Meanwhile the British introduced English education into the country. This required hard application and industry. The Hindus were used to this, as under Muslim rule, they had practically to master a foreign tongue, and so easily took to new education. But the Muslim had not yet become accustomed to this sort of thing. Moreover, they resented competing with the Hindus, whom they had till recently regarded as their inferiors. The Muslims were gradually ousted from their lands, offices; in fact everything was lost save their honor. To the Hindus it was the opposite. They were soon reduced to a state of utter poverty. Ignorance and apathy seized hold of them while the fall of their former greatness rankled in their hearts.” Pg. 295


This feeling of backwardness was brought to a head at the evidence before the Public Service Commission in 1886. Dadabhai Naoraoji touched the crux of the problem when he observed that the attitude of the Muslims was “based on selfish interests, that because the Muslims are backward, therefore, they would not allow the Hindus and all India to go forward.”  Pg. 330


The idea of an Indian nationality was generally lacking among Hindus and Muslims. The latter could not forget they were masters of Hindus not long ago. To be subject of British was bad enough, but Hindu domination was worse.

Muslims could have joined Hindu political demands but what was the inducement. In social and religious matters a deep gulf existed. Name of Shivaji was an inspiration for Hindus who held Aurangzeb in open contempt. The reverse was the case with Muslims.


Yet Hindu Muslim unity into one nation was possible. However, Hindu leaders had no patience to listen sympathetically to the grievances of the Muslims, which could explain their attitude towards the Hindus.


The indifference of the Muslim masses to all political questions probably contributed to the mistaken notion of the Hindus about Muslim attitude. Confronted by the opposition of educated Muslims, they consoled themselves with the idea that the Muslim masses were not with the latter. The Hindus should have foreseen that ultimately the Muslim masses were bound to fall in line with the views of their leaders.


We must understand that the Pan-Islamic sentiment then prevented integration of Muslims into India. (End of precis)   


To read full Foreword visit the Bhavan site and HERE (shall be uploaded shortly)

To buy book The History and Culture of Indian People at Bhavan’s Online Store or on Amazon

To subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal  To read on Culture

To read Vande Mataram (English translation by Sri Aurobindo)


Also read

1. Who was responsible for Partition

2. Muslim politics before the Aligarh Movement

3. Role of British Principals in the Aligarh Movement

4. Wahabi Movement

5. History of Urdu

6. Thoughts on Pakistan by Dr Ambedkar

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