Monday, June 26, 2006

Dalrymple on 1857: the Religious Component

William Dalrymple, a British travel writer and scholar of Indian history, sometimes gets himself into hot water with Indian critics. He was attacked by Farrukh Dhondy a couple of years ago for criticizing V.S. Naipaul's pro-communalist comments, and then more recently by Pankaj Mishra for lamenting the state of non-fiction writing in and about India. But whatever you think of his role in these arguments, Dalrymple as a historian is the real deal: his book Delhi: City of Djinns is an amazing historical travel narrative, which blends Dalrymple's experiences in modern Delhi with a great deal of careful research into Delhi's formidable past.

The current issue of Outlook India has a nice essay by Dalrymple on the Indian Mutiny/Rebellion of 1857 (thanks, Indianoguy!). The essay is really in three parts: one is a fresh look at the fall of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the "last Mughal" -- whose sons were all executed (murdered) by the British after the Rebellion. The second part is a discussion of "Mutiny papers" in the National Archives of India that Mahmoud Farooqi has been translating from Urdu. These documents show the Indian perspective on the events of 1857, where one finds, among other things, that the rebels were motivated by religious rage to a very great extent. Finally, there is a discussion of contemporary Delhi -- in which preserving the emblems of this past is of very little interest to most people.

Though I remember reading somewhere that one of the main causes of the failure of the Rebellion was Zafar's age and his failure to act decisively (see details at Wikipedia), Dalrymple has a slightly different take. There's no doubt that Zafar was old at the time the Mutiny occurred (he was about 80), but his weakness was not his fault. He only ascended the throne at age 60, by which time it was too late to do anything to revive his family's dead empire. Moreover, he contributed a great deal to literature:

Zafar came late to the throne, succeeding his father only in his mid-60s, when it was already impossible to reverse the political decline of the Mughals. But despite this he succeeded in creating around him in Delhi a court of great brilliance. Personally, he was one of the most talented, tolerant and likeable of his dynasty: a skilled calligrapher, a profound writer on Sufism, a discriminating patron of miniature painters and an inspired creator of gardens. Most importantly, he was a very serious mystical poet, who wrote not only in Urdu and Persian but Braj Bhasha and Punjabi, and partly through his patronage there took place arguably the greatest literary renaissance in modern Indian history.Himself a ghazal writer of great charm and accomplishment, Zafar's court provided a showcase for the talents of India's greatest love poet, Ghalib, and his rival Zauq—the Mughal poet laureate, and the Salieri to Ghalib's Mozart. (link)

One could of course argue, echoing Tagore, that mystical poetry is the consolation of a defeated people, but this is definitely better than the standard image of Zafar as an indecisive invalid. (Some of Zafar's Urdu ghazals are here)

Dalrymple also strongly condemns the violence involved in the suppression of the Rebellion, including the (ghastly) British decision to summarily kill all of Zafar's sons and the wanton destruction of priceless monuments (including the palace inside the Red Fort) in Delhi and other Indian cities. This wasn't enlightened Liberalism or Imperial benevolence, but a dirty war in which indiscriminate killing and humiliation were used to ensure victory.

From my perspective, the most interesting parts of Dalrymple's piece detail the 20,000 Urdu documents in the National Archives that are now being translated by Mahmoud Farooqi. Partly they are interesting because they add to our image of everyday life in India at that time:

What was even more exciting was the street-level nature of much of the material. Although the documents were collected by the victorious British from the palace and the army camp, they contained huge quantities of petitions, complaints and requests from the ordinary citizens of Delhi—potters and courtesans, sweetmeat-makers and over-worked water carriers—exactly the sort of people who usually escape the historian's net. The Mutiny Papers overflow with glimpses of real life: the bird-catchers and lime-makers who have had their charpoys stolen by sepoys; the gamblers playing cards in a recently ruined house and ogling the women next door, to the great alarm of the family living there; the sweetmeat-makers who refuse to take their sweets up to the trenches in Qudsia Bagh until they are paid for the last load. (link)

But it's more than that. What the papers underline is the extent to which religious feelings drove the rebels. It goes well beyond the question of "greased cartridges":

As the sepoys told Zafar on May 11, 1857, "we have joined hands to protect our religion and our faith". Later they stood in Chandni Chowk, the main street of Old Delhi, and asked people: "Brothers: are you with those of the faith?" British men who had converted to Islam—and there were a surprising number of those in Delhi—were not hurt; but Indians who had converted to Christianity were cut down immediately. It is highly significant that the Urdu sources usually refer to the British not as angrez (the English) or as goras (Whites) or even firangis but instead almost always as kafirs (infidels) and nasrani (Christians).

Although the great majority of the sepoys were Hindus, in Delhi a flag of jihad was raised in the principal mosque, and many of the insurgents described themselves as mujahideen, ghazis and jihadis. Indeed, by the end of the siege, after a significant proportion of the sepoys had melted away, unpaid, hungry and dispirited, the proportion of jihadis in Delhi grew to be about a quarter of the total fighting force, and included a regiment of "suicide ghazis" from Gwalior who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met death—"for those who have come to die have no need for food". One of the causes of unrest, according to one Delhi source, was that "the British had closed the madrasas". These were words which had no resonance to the historians of the 1960s. Now, sadly, in the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7 they are words we understand all too well, and words like jihad scream out of the dusty pages of the source manuscripts, demanding attention. (link)

I don't think Dalrymple is saying that everyone involved in the Rebellion of 1857 was motivated by this kind of religious feeling (indeed, as I understand it there were as many or more Hindu sepoy rebels). But it is worth considering whether people might feel differently about the concept of "jihad" when one shares a political and military goal with a Jihadi.

Finally, Dalrymple talks about the total indifference to the past that many contemporary Indians feel. As Dalrymple puts it:

I find it heartbreaking: often when I revisit one of my favourite monuments it has either been overrun by some slum, unsympathetically restored by the asi or, more usually, simply demolished. Ninety-nine per cent of the delicate havelis or Mughal courtyard houses of Old Delhi have been destroyed, and like the city walls, disappeared into memory. According to historian Pavan Verma, the majority of the buildings he recorded in his book Mansions at Dusk only 10 years ago no longer exist. Perhaps there is also a cultural factor here in the neglect of the past: as one conservationist told me recently: "You must understand," he said, "that we Hindus burn our dead." Either way, the loss of Delhi's past is irreplaceable; and future generations will inevitably look back at the conservation failures of the early 21st century with a deep sadness. (link)

Cremating the dead is one thing -- but forgetting them entirely is quite another.

[Cross-posted at Sepia Mutiny]


Chandra said...

" one conservationist told me recently: "You must understand," he said, "that we Hindus burn our dead." "

I wonder what this "conservationist" is trying to conserve. Apparently the souls of the monuments lives on...taking other forms. Dumb excuses for not doing his work.

2:57 PM  
Qalandar said...

Excellent piece, Amardeep. Though I don't see the problems/indifference as Delhi- or India-specific; it seems like the sad story of all too many societies faced with rising populations, economic growth, pressures on the environment, etc. In general I would say that the Delhi government is better than most other state governments in India when it comes to preservation. Though the problem is that virtually all the attention is focused on preserving/restoring the "major monuments" (e.g. Humayun's tomb, which is spectacular relative to what it was 10-15 years ago), and there is no concerted effort to preserve the (relatively?) anonymous traces of our past. The loss is indeed irreplaceable. No Barcelona Gothic quarter-type experience in our future if the only heritage sites that survive are the palaces, forts, and mausoleums of the great (and not-so-great)...

8:31 PM  
Qalandar said...

Dalrymple has come in for a lot of criticism from several quarters for soft Orientalism, for romanticizing India's periods of Muslim rule, etc. However, I think this misses the point: Dalrymple is a writer in the elegiac mode, and only the cultural manifestations of the decline of Muslim rule appear to seriously interest him. I don't recall him devoting even 1% of his attention to romanticizing or writing about (e.g.) the Mughal court at its apogee. Nor is this a criticism: for a writer of his bent, the siren song of Urdu literature/culture, which reaches a peak precisely in the midst of political decline, indeed the high-lietrary mode of which is nothing if not elegiac, must exert a powerful pull indeed. I found City of Djinns great in terms of its evocation of a certain mood, and Dalrymple's love for his subject is compelling, but I don't really see him as a historian.

Back to 1857: G.S. Cheema's "The Forgotten Mughals", written in a mind-numbingly stultifying style that drowns any larger narrative amidst a progression of dates, names and sordidness, nevertheless comes alive when it recounts the British re-capture of Delhi and its aftermath. In particular, Cheema stresses the administrative violence that hardly any Indians remember: the city was emptied of its inhabitants for one year (the people had to camp out on te plains, exposed to the elements, or in the ruins of monuments/palaces), after which only Hindus were allowed to return. Muslims had to wait an additional year, as the British held them responsible for the events of 1857 to a far greater degree. [I suspect the British mania with Islam as a competitive and potentially (& historically) imperial force had much to do with this perception, which isn't really borne out by the facts. If the uprising may be said to have had any one guiding light -- a very big if indeed -- I would nominate the would-be Mahrattha Peshwa Dhondu Pant.]

8:41 PM  
Qalandar said...

Re: ""You must understand," he said, "that we Hindus burn our dead.""

I respect Pavan Verma (his biography of Ghalib is a classic), but this is a (there's no other word for it) stupid comment. Hindus do burn their dead, but Varma's statement posits a connection between this practice and the forgetting that he laments all around him. There is none, because it is in no way clear to me that cremation is meant to signify an erasure from memory...

8:48 PM  
Panini Pothoharvi said...

The practice of the 'Hindus burning their dead' is of a historically recent origin. At least this is what I have heard both Irfan Habib and Romilla Thapar - eminent Indian historians - state at a national seminar on communal historiography in New Delhi. There was indeed a time when the Hindus like many other religious communities used to bury their dead. Could anyone throw more light on this, please?

2:06 AM  
Qalandar said...

Panini: I don't know about how recent it is or isn't, but even today millions of Hindus (mostly Dalits, but in Tamil Nadu non-Dalits too) bury their dead. For popular representations of this practice, check out any number of Tamil films set in relatively small town or rural milieus (the outstanding "Pithamagan", which fetched its male lead Vikram a National Award) is largely set in and around a Hindu graveyard. And let's not forget Jabbar Patel's "Ambedkar", which has one such scene too.

9:16 AM  
Deepak Adhikari said...

Very insightful article Amardeep. I read his peice first in his website and now Outlook made it cover story. Links were very useful. Keep it up!

9:24 AM  
Qalandar said...

Tangential point: Dalrymple refers to the literary moment of Bahadur Shah Zafar's court as "arguably the greatest literary renaissance in modern Indian history." My mom's a teacher of Urdu, and would like this sentiment. I too have a great attachment to the "idea of Urdu" so to speak, but Dalrymple's is a rather sweeping statement: devotees of the "Bengal Renaissance" beginning later in the nineteenth century might have something to say about that...

9:53 AM  
Ruchira Paul said...

Amardeep: Thanks for posting yet another thoughtful piece.

qalandar: You make a very interesting suggestion - about Dalrymple's style being of the elegiac mode. And his romantic nostalgia for the disappeaing vestiges of a once thriving civilization/culture. I never thought of that. I read his books as straight and wonderfully lively historical accounts. But now that you pointed it out, I thought back to Dalrymple's other excellent book, From The Holy Mountain. In that he laments the vanishing traces of Christiandom from the lands of the erstwhile Byzantium and Levant. The loss in this case is to the superimposition of Islam and Judaism.

3:40 PM  
Ruchira Paul said...

.... that should read Christendom.

7:03 PM  
maya varghese said...

i come here often. and feel like a student and so never much to learn from your blog.

1:51 AM  
vk said...

I think both cremation and burial are pretty ancient practices in hinduism. I am not sure why some communities practice burial while others practice cremation. The funeral rites performed during cremation and after (the shradh) are pretty ancient (are essentially vedic rituals). I do know that the bodies of children are buried and not cremated, and the same goes for sanyasis and others who renounce the world (e.g like Adi Shankaracharya). When one enters sanyas, the funeral cremation ritual is performed to signify renunciation, and when the actual event of death occurs the body is buried (samadhi).

9:33 AM  
raina said...

much as i like dalrymple, he isn't a historian. he's travel writer, interested and sympathetic to india's muslim culture and past.

11:06 AM  
Panini Pothoharvi said...

Dear VK,

My query is: when do we find the first reference(s) to the practice of "burning the dead" within our texts? Any comments!

1:15 PM  
Anonymous said...

When do we find the first reference(s) to the practice of "burning the dead" within our texts? Any comments!

It's in the Vedas.

Anyway, do you know when is first mention of chandni chowk in sikh texts?

3:51 PM  
Anonymous said...

tipu sultan is great guy, he fought against british with jihad on his lips. snakevenom is antidote. jai hind.

4:51 PM  
Ruchira Paul said...

Don't know the origin of burning the Hindu dead. But I did once read something extremely interesting about another method of disposing of the dead which may have been prevalent among the ancient Hindus. It was largely speculation but a very plausible one.

It is possible that the ancients may have also practiced the custom of leaving their dead on tree tops or tall towers to be devoured by scavenging birds and other creatures - much like the practice among Parsees. Where is the clue? In the Mahabharata. Remember when the Pandavas are banished by Duryodhan, condemned to roam the world in disguise in the last year of the banishment? Before they go into hiding, they wrap up Arjun's distinctive bow and arrow which would have been a giveaway to their identity, in a sheet and hang them up in a tree. Apparently, the the bundle was made to look like a dead body so no one will disturb it. Who knows how authentic this is. But this may indeed point to a common Indo-Iranian heritage. The practice may have persisted among the Zoroastrians and was replaced gradually by burning among Hindus.

The always resourceful Amardeep will find out for us.

7:47 PM  
Panini Pothoharvi said...

Thanks Ruchira! Your reference is indeed evocative. I wonder why it reminds me - the tying up of Arjun's Gaandeeva as a corpse on a tree-top - of a haunting Japanese film of the 50s Narayama bushiko (The Ballad of Narayama) by Keisuke Kinoshita. As for the mail by anonymous, I am unable to find any reference to 'burning the dead' in the Vedas. Chandani Chowk is too recent to require historic authentication.

9:00 PM  
Chandra said...


I read somewhere, I think in the travel section of New York Times many years ago, that Tibetan Buddhists have similar practice. The Buddhists monks there actually feed the body pieces to the birds (mainly vultures) so that the soulless body is not wasted - burned or buried. (It does sound gross.)

Amardeep, I am sure these are comments you were expecting from your post on the first jihadi revolution for freedom.

2:03 AM  
vk said...

Here is a story about the funeral rites performed by Adi Sankara for his mother. The rites are at least as old:

This is a pretty common account. I know there are vedic references, but I cannot find a reference online as yet. I am however pretty sure that Ms Thapar and Mr Habib are wrong if their "recent origin" is more recent than the 14th-15th century. The funeral rites performed in my family are at least as old (and they are cremation rites). Also, the Kurukshetra war ends with cremations.

Furthermore, this is an excerpt from the Garuda Purana regarding funeral rites:

"For example, it is stated in the Garuda Purana that when the death of a near relative takes place within the period of Panchak, within one year, five members of the family can die if proper ceremonies are not performed after the death. Panchak dates are based upon astrological calculations. (Hindu calendars usually list Panchak tables). The funeral and the last rites must be performed the proper way. For Panchak death there are specific instructions given in our scriptures that are to be performed upon the dead body before cremation. Four small dolls made from Kusha grass (described as hair of Lord Vishnu) are to be placed, accompanied by Mantras, on shoulders and knees of the dead body before igniting fire."

One can find excerpts of this kind online (e.g through links on wikipedia), including a complete english translation dating from 1911. The dating of this purana is at the latest the latter half of the 1st Millenium A.D.

Earlier than this, the cremation rites are known from the end of the Kurukshetra war in the Mahabharata (The Stri-Vilapa parva). The relevant extract regarding the funeral rites for the fallen (from a translation by
Kisari Mohan Ganguli, published 1893-96):

""Dhritarashtra said, ‘It is necessary that our people should burn, with due rites, the bodies of both the friendless and the friended slain. What shall we do with those that have none to look after them and that have no sacred fires? The duties that await us are many. Who are those whose (last) rites we should perform? O Yudhishthira, will they obtain regions of blessedness by the merit of their acts, they whose bodies are now being torn and dragged by vultures and other birds?’"

Vaishampayana continued, "Thus addressed, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira of great wisdom commanded Sudharma (the priest of the Kauravas) and Dhaumya, and Sanjaya of the suta order, and Vidura of great wisdom, and Yuyutsu of Kuru’s race, and all his servants headed by Indrasena, and all the other sutas that were with him, saying, ‘Cause the funeral rites of the slain, numbering by thousands, to be duly performed, so that nobody may perish for want of persons to take care of them!’ At this command of king Yudhishthira the just, Vidura and Sanjaya and Sudharma and Dhaumya and Indrasena and others, procuring sandal, aloe and other kinds of wood used on such occasions, as also clarified butter and oil and perfumes and costly silken robes and other kinds of cloth, and large heaps of dry wood, and broken cars and diverse kinds of weapons, caused funeral pyres to be duly made and lighted and then without haste burnt, with due rites the slain kings in proper order. They properly burned upon those fires that blazed forth with libations of clarified butter in torrents over them, the bodies of Duryodhana and his hundred brothers, of Shalya, and king Bhurishrava; of king Jayadratha and Abhimanyu, O Bharata; of Duhshasana’s son and Lakshmana and king Dhrishtaketu; of Vrihanta and Somadatta and the hundreds of Srinjayas; of king Kshemadhanva and Virata and Drupada; of Shikhandi the prince of Pancalas, and Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata’s race; of the valiant Yudhamanyu and Uttamauja; of the ruler of the Kosalas, the sons of Draupadi, and Shakuni the son of Subala; of Acala and Vrishaka, and king Bhagadatta; of Karna and his son of great wrath; of those great bowmen, the Kekaya princes, and those mighty car-warriors, the Trigartas; of Ghatotkaca the prince of rakshasas, and the brother of Vaka, of Alambusha, the foremost of rakshasas, and king Jalasandha; and of hundreds and thousands of other kings. The pitri-medha rites in honour of some of the illustrious dead were performed there, while some sang Samas, and some uttered lamentations for the dead. With the loud noise of Samas and Riks, and the lamentations of the women, all creatures became stupefied that night. The funeral fires, smokeless and blazing brightly (amid the surrounding darkness), looked like luminous planets in the firmament enveloped by clouds. Those among the dead that had come from diverse realms and were utterly friendless were piled together in thousands of heaps and, at the command of Yudhishthira, were caused to be burnt by Vidura through a large number of persons acting coolly and influenced by good-will and affection, on pyres made of dry wood. Having caused their last rites to be performed, the Kuru king Yudhishthira, placing Dhritarashtra at his head, proceeded towards the river Ganga."

A link to this is:

I hope you misheard/misinterpreted what Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib said, otherwise they appear to be simply
and completely wrong on this matter.

3:06 AM  
vk said...

PS: The "Samas and Riks" mentioned in the text refers to appropriate hymns from the corresponding vedas.

3:07 AM  
zhivago said...


put up a post on something that will make a difference in bringing ppl together and face injustices. perhaps in efforts to be intellectuals and be accepted as such, we ignore the pertinent issues that could actually help ppl and their soceities. not ignoring that you have had some decent posts, but that one on waste of time, but hey its your blog :) from the comments some found it interesting.

my about writing on those 37 sikhs, youngest one i think was 17, shot dead by hindus, in Chattisinghpura during clinton's visit in 2002 all in an effort to blame the kashimiri militants. this was mention in albrights book and certain hindus have made a big deal about getting that removed calling it a typo. again, i think your hindu readers have too much to enjoy about india already, such a discussion by a secularist like yourself would really be interesting and admirable.

OR how about discussing the distoration of the sikh religion in indian text books, as they are calling Sikh Gurus as....

theives, sexually pumped, liars, muslims supporters, etc.

these are current issues. how about it amaradeep? temples are interesting too but current issues can really make sense since you cared enough to write about the hindu temples demolitions in malaysia.

3:38 AM  
Chandra said...

VK, thanks for links.

Panini, using VK sacred text link, I scanned the main Hinduism page there I found link to translation to The Garuda Purana, by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam [1911],
that deals with aspects of last rite and after life.

Especially Chapter XI of Garuda Purana refers to last rites and method of cremation and seems to be described clearly. And as far as I could see there was no reference to burial.

I guess if one were to think Puranas (as well as Vedas) weren't real (ie mythological), one can ignore what is being said in them.

12:10 PM  
Panini Pothoharvi said...

Do Hindus anywhere in India bury their dead? That's how I should have worded my question. I do not claim to be an authority on Hinduism although I have a reasonably good understanding of how the Sanskrit language works. My comments were made in the light of
a) what both Prof Habib and Prof Thapar had said about the practice of burial amongst the Hindus at a national symposium on the threats posed by the communal historiography, and
b) the Hindu funeral rites I happened to witness first hand in a village named Mansoor about 14 kms away from Dharwar in the southern state of Karnataka in not too distant a past.

1:26 PM  
MetaMutator said...

I happened to be once talking to this Indonesian architecture professor on conservation. We were, of course, entirely talking about Singapore; how, even 15 years back, it was a collection of fishing villages, how the kampong lifestyle has given way to an industrial-isque, character-less housing estate lifestyle, and so on so forth. In particular, we were talking about how village gods and temples were simply destroyed in a bad rush to build bigger and taller buildings.

He said something that made me stop and ponder. He said that while the Westerners were interested in "physical" conservation, that is, in preserving the form of a building, we Asians are more interested in (what he called as) "spiritual" conservation; the Asian tendency is to preserve the function of some common space, while rampantly changing, or rather updating, its form.

The particular example he gave was the Archeological Survey of India's conservation attempts at Angkor Wat; in the 1980's, the ASI put concrete and drilled holes into the Angkor Wat structure to bind the blocks and make a wooden staircase, among other things. This was, of course, heavily criticised by most world archeologists; at least on the southern wall, there was irrepairable damage done to, among other things, sculptures of apsara dancers in various poses. However, and this is where it gets interesting, he argued that the conservation attempt was very successful in a functional sense; there might not be any active worship going on, but you really can't mistake the spiritual ambience in the Southern Corridor. You might get the finer details of the sculpture wrong, but the function, spirituality, is retained; this is something that you can't say with other temples in the Angkor region, say, a Ta Prohm, or Primenekas.

I'm not suggesting that Darymple represents a Western viewpoint, or that conservation isn't necessary; from White Mughals onwards, and I've already told him this in a fan-boi email, I consider him to be a part of the Indian civil society for the influence his scholarship has on our ideas about medieval India. I'm also deeply concerned by the total and complete destruction of our architectural heritage; my hometown, Hyderabad, also suffers from the same problem, old havelis and gardens seem to be getting converted to cookie-cutter malls and garbage dumps. But that said, it is important to understand why, as a people, we persist with installing jail-like cubicles in Tirupati, or puncture so many holes into the walls of the Mecca Masjid; we're not that bothered as to how a building looks like, as much as we're interested in what we do there. There will be an uproar only for the latter, and not necessarily for the former.

10:02 PM  
Qalandar said...

Re: "Do Hindus anywhere in India bury their dead?"

Yes millions of Hindus DO bury the dead; the practice is common among many castes/communities in Tamil Nadu, and even in Andhra Pradesh; can't say much about other parts of India, but traditionally even in other parts of the country Dalits often buried their dead.

2:05 AM  
Qalandar said...

Re: "how about writing on those 37 sikhs, youngest one i think was 17, shot dead by hindus, in Chattisinghpura during clinton's visit in 2002 all in an effort to blame the kashimiri militants"

Zhivago: what was the proof that these poor souls were shot dead by "Hindus", and in an attempt to blame Kashmiri militants? Especially given these self-same militants have routinely murdered non-Muslims (both Hindus and Sikhs, not to mention Muslims deemed "collaborators") in Kashmir? Human rights violations by Indian security forces are to be condemned whenever and wherever they occur, but there is a difference between the latter attitude and one that holds Indian security forces (or worse, unspecified "Hindus") responsible for every atrocity that occurs in Kashmir.

2:08 AM  
Panini Pothoharvi said...

I have only recently returned from the valley where I had had the opportunity to be part of a workshop on culture run by an NGO. Having met the volatile, but intellectually 'switched-on', Muslim youth and having listened to them on the history of violence especially in the last 15 years, I have no doubt in my mind that Zhivagoan brand of blind writ is no longer uncritically accepted by an overwhelmingly large number of the Kashmiri youth. In fact, it is, at times, vehemently rejected. My advice to Zhivago would be: visit Chhattisingpura and find out what the victims of the carnage there have to say about who killed their near and dear ones.

6:43 AM  
vk said...

I think qalandar answered your question. I tried looking for references to burial practices in Hindu texts, but could not find them. I will put them up here if I come across any such references. The only references I know of are regarding people who have performed the rites of renunciation. It could be that the burial practices among South Indian hindus is of considerable antiquity, and would be very interesting to understand better.

Incidentally, the canard regarding the perpetrators of Chattisinghpora being "hindus/Indian Army/Indian authorities" was first floated by the uber intellectual, Mr. Pankaj Mishra.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous said...

very interesting discussion, guys! Not only in Tamilnadu or in Kerala, there are communities in North India also who bury their deads. Tharu, a tribe community, who follow the Hinduism practice bureal.

7:55 AM  
arman said...

dear sir, i have read with great interest yr artcle, which recapitulates the views expressed in the recent issue of outlook.after all why are we reluctant to accept the truth, of is a matter of shame that a foreigner is instrumental in opening up the matters gathering dust in the national archieves. only because that they are in urdu.our basic fault is that we react too quickly without understanding the crux of the matter guided mainly by our prejudices..
i am also of the opinion that bahdur shah zafar's sacrifice is supreme; and even greater than the ones whom we glorify day in & day out.but no body bothers to accept these facts.why? how many of us know that the first indian journalist to be martyred was moulvi mohammad baqar whose delhi urdu akhbar was in the fore front of the many of us know of moulvi fazlul haq khairabadi who was deported & killed at kala pani prison i can prolong the list ,further ,but what is the use of speaking the truth.what has happened to our is high time that a suitable monument be erected in the memory of all those who made the supreme sacrifice irrespective of religion,caste & creed.arman najmi.

12:01 AM  

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