Indian History and Culture 1905 to 1947 AD by K M Munshi, founder Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

  • This precis covers the purpose of history, why was Pakistan created, creation and Sub-nation States and Linguistic chauvinism, Hindu Muslim riots 1918 to 1927 and Hindu Muslim Pact 1923.  

Shri V Balachandran (ex-Special Secretary Cabinet Secretariat) wrote in The Tribune Chandigarh 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 & my 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 was the Assistant Editor of Vol 11.

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.


Part 7 covers 1905 to 1947 and is titled Struggle for Freedom. It includes the purpose of history, why was Pakistan created, creation and Sub-nation States and Linguistic chauvinism, Hindu Muslim riots 1918 to 1927 and Hindu Muslim Pact 1923.  


My only contribution is doing a precis. This piece is courtesy publisher Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mumbai. This volume was published in 1969 & 1988. 


The Struggle for Freedom 1905 to 1947 Foreword by Shri K M Munshi

“The central purpose of history, therefore, must be to investigate and unfold the values, which in succeeding ages have inspired men to develop their collective will and to express it through the manifold activities of life. 


For, there is the danger, that the science and methodology of history, as developed in the West, may bypass special features and accomplishments of Indian history, when it differs from the established notion, as irrelevant or obscurantist.


Another problem that we have to consider is the persistent demand for the rewriting of history to foster communal amity. To my mind, nothing can be a greater mistake.


I have had the privilege of living through the period covered by this volume. One point I want to make clear. The communal problem, which ultimately divided the country, was neither inevitable nor insoluble. It was a price we had to pay four inability to assess political realities.


Pakistan was create to placate not so much the Muslims, 50 millions of whom were left in India, but Mr Jinnah who wanted a kingdom for himself. I knew him well. He was inflexible, indomitable and honest according to his own light but was totally incapable of understanding other’s point of view. How, Pakistan was created under his shadow and once he disappeared the political stability was in jeopardy.


In India the greatest danger is the formation of sub-nation States and linguistic chauvinism. Formation of states based on language was an administrative necessity and after Independence some adjustments were made but it was impossible to draw the boundaries of a state in such a manner as to totally exclude linguistic groups from the adjacent States. Nor is such a boundary necessary. We are citizens of India, not of any State, though the present trend is to identify oneself with his State rather than India.


This tendency has to be dealt with firmly without weakening the Centre or the federal bonds in any way. It has been the experience of history, that this subcontinent has fallen a prey to foreign invasion in the absence of a strong central authority. This lesson of history we had in mind when we adopted a quasi-federal constitution of India.” End of Quote


The chapters include the Partition of Bengal in 1905, The Swadeshi Movement, Muslim Politics, Revolutionary Activities in India and Abroad, Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, The Non-Cooperation Movement, Hindu-Muslim relation, British Attitude towards India, The Congress, Second World War, Quit India Movement, Subhash Bose and I.N.A., Post-War Negotiations, Relations with Afghanistan, the Indian Economy, Social Reform, The Press etc.  


Preface by Dr R.C. Majumdar 

“In this volume focus is on events leading to India’s Independence. Care has also been taken to indicate the influence exerted by the national struggle for freedom, not only on literature but also on the Press which during this period had become the handmaid of politics to a far larger extent than ever before. 


Additional difficulties are created by the necessity of dealing with activities of men like Gandhi and Nehru who are looked upon by a large section of Indians with veneration. A regular propaganda has been kept up to preserve untarnished the halo of glory which contemporaries, in the first flush of enthusiasm, put round their heads. In dealing with these and other difficult issues the Editor followed three principles.


One, that history is no respector of persons or communities. Two, its sole aim is to find out the truth by following the cannons commonly accepted as sound by all historians. Three, to express the truth, without dear etc. and irrespective of all extraneous considerations, both political and humane.” End of quote


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.


Hindu Muslim Relations 1919-1928 (precis of Ch 15-Taken because this continues to be of interest in 2022)

“The suspension of the non-cooperation movement chilled the enthusiasm of the Khilafatists and when the Caliphate was abolished the Khilafat Movement died a natural death. The Muslim League, so long overshadowed by the Movement now recovered its old strength and prestige and pursued the old communal game in politics.


Almost as soon as the non-cooperation movement died down, old feuds between Hindus and Muslims recurred. At the back of it lay the old Muslim policy of deriving communal or personal advantages by cooperating with the British against the Hindus. The revival of the old communal spirit resulted in discord over petty issues.


Early in 1923, there were serious communal clashes in Multan and Amritsar. Later in the year, Muslims started a definite communal movement called Tanzeem and Tabligh to organise Muslims as a virile community. In response, Hindus started a Sangathan movement for promoting physical culture and removing social abuses. Swami Shraddhananda started the Suddhi (purification) movement to bring back Hindus who were converted to Muslim. The Sangathan and Suddhi movements caused a serious rift between the two communities. Pg. 425


Also read The Forgotten Mahatma – Swami Shraddhananda


Serious communal riots vitiated the political atmosphere of India from 1923 onwards. Serious efforts were made by eminent leaders of both the communities to eliminate the causes of discord by drawing up an agreed covenant for guiding the relations between Hindus and Muslims.


The Bengal Provincial Congress Committee approved a Hindu-Muslim Pact w.r.t Bengal. It main provisions were –

1. Representation in Legislative Council on population basis with separate electorates.

2. Representation to local bodies in ratio of 60-40 in every district, 60 to the community which is in the majority and 40 to the minority.

3. 55% of Government posts should go to Muslims and 88% Muslims should be annually recruited till this proportion is reached.

4. No music should be allowed before a mosque.

5. There should be no interference with cow-killing for religious sacrifices but cow should be killed in a manner that would not wound religious feeling of Hindus.


One of the worst riots broke out in Calcutta in May 1923. There were a series of riots on 15 July, 1924 on Bakr-id. The most serious one took place in Delhi.


Generally, communal riots were confined to British territory and the Indian States were free from them. A serious in 1924, in Gulbarga, in Nizam’s territory, was an exception.


The most serious outbreak occurred in Kohat, in North West Frontier Province, a predominantly Muslim area. The destruction caused forced the Hindu and Sikh population to leave Kohat for Rawalpindi and other places in Punjab. There were other communal riots, notably one at Lakhnau on 13 and 14 September. During informal meetings to resolve the impasses that the main stumbling block in arriving at a communal settlement was the representation of the two communities in various legislatures. The Muslims were clear but the Hindu political leaders were not prepared to face facts.


To see location of Kohat in current map of Pakistan


In 1925 and 1926, the Bakri-id ceremony caused serious riots in Delhi, Amdavad and Calcutta. No less than 16 communal riots took place in 1925, the worst being in Delhi, Aligarh, Sholapur and Arvi. The most serious riot in 1926 took place in Calcutta in April over the question of music before a mosque.


It is significant that during this period of great communal tension Gandhi kept himself aloof, probably giving up as hopeless any attempt at communal harmony.


The year 1926 ended with the killing of Swami Shraddhananda, leading light of the Suddhi movement, nationalist and founder of the Gurukul at Kangri. Several communal rights broke out in 1927.


It has been calculated that between 1922 and 1927, 450 lives were lost and 5,000 persons injured in communal riots. (Statutory Commission Report Vol 4).” Above is courtesy and copyright Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai. 


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. History of Urdu

4. Thoughts on Pakistan by Dr Ambedkar

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