Bravehearts of Bharat: Vignettes from Indian History
Author: Vikram Sampath
Published by: Penguin Viking
No of Pages: 334
MRP: Rs. 799/-
Thank you @penguinindia for a media copy.
The book is a collection of Fifteen Brave Men and Women whose stories are important, but rarely told. . If you remember Mr Sampath’s debate at the India Today Conclave last year, which went quite viral, he has brought his words on paper with this book. The way history has been told in our country, is very distorted. To quote the African author, Chinua Achebe, who the author also has quoted in the Prologue, ‘Until the lions have their historians, the history of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.’ Our history has been glorifying the Invaders, and even colonizers to some aspect. The author further talks about how History is taught in schools and colleges, about how ‘regional history’ does not become ‘mainstream’ barring a few exceptions.
How does even one decide what is regional and what is central? Even when a youngster learns about the most extinct and brief dynasties that ruled in and around Delhi—the Tughlaqs, Lodhis, or Khiljis—whose significant and lasting contribution to this country, beyond a few pieces of architecture, could well be characterized as being basically insignificant. Most of the history taught is Delhi focused. There are just a few fleeting references to the Maratha Empire, the dynasties of the southern part of India like the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas, the Satavahanas, the mighty Cholas, the Pandyas, the prosperous Vijayanagara Empire, the Adil Shahis of the Deccan, the Wodeyars of Mysore or the rulers of Travancore, among others. As a result of this transformation, Muhammad of Ghaznavi became "a great lover of art and a monarch who constructed libraries in his native territory." Not the fact that thousands of unarmed common Hindus gave their life for Somnath, but rather the fact was the one to be admired.
The book recounts the biographies of 15 great Indian warriors. Why only fifteen, then? After deciding to create the book, the author imposed it as a matter of choice. The harder part was figuring just which fifteen of them to squeeze in. He was limited in how far back he could go because there isn't much information available about lesser-known ancient characters. Additionally, he has opted to omit data collected after 1858, when the British government replaced the East India Company as the dominant force. He has selected people from the 8th century BCE through the 19th century. He made an effort to strike a balance by including men and women, easterners and westerners, northerners and southerners, Hindus and Muslims, sailors and soldiers. From Kashmir's Lalitaditya Muktapida to Awadh's Begum Hazrat Mahal, each chapter highlights a hero or heroine whom the mainstream colonial-Nehruvian-Marxist historical narrative has chosen to overlook.Each chapter is thoroughly researched and presented in an engaging manner. It maintains academic rigour while avoiding intellectual dryness. It maintains the racy pace throughout without delving into sensationalist unhistorical dreams.The book is chock-full of fascinating facts about Indian heritage that the next generation should be aware of.
The heroism of all of India is brought to all of India in this book. A vast matrix that permeates the entirety of Bharat Varsha includes valour and patriotism. No one ideology, and definitely no one family or a small group of individuals, can claim exclusive ownership of the freedom we enjoy today. The book demonstrates how heroes and heroines have appeared in every province and in every era, engaging in far-reaching acts of service to the community while engaging in remarkable combat with aggressors. Every Indian should read this book, especially young readers, who are taught what-not in schools and colleges
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