Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guha vs. Elst

The past decades have seen a high tide of history distortion by the dominant Leftist school of historians in India. Future scholarship will study their self-assured posturing with amusement. Here's one instance.

In his column “Foreign Certificates”, published on 4 January 2009 in The Hindu Magazine, the well-known subalternist sociologist Ramachandra Guha makes the following assertion:

“At the height of the Ayodhya movement, the Sangh Parivar circulated, at vast expense, the writings of an obscure Belgian ex-priest which claimed that Hindus had been victimised for thousands of years by Muslims and Christians, and that destroying a mosque, building a temple in its place, and sacrificing thousands of (mostly innocent) lives along the way was the only way that this cumulative historical injustice could be avenged. This ex-priest had little training as a historian, and even less credibility. But unlike the other similarly untrained ideologues of the Hindu Right, his citizenship was not Indian, but Belgian. The hope was that the colour of his skin would trump the shallowness of his arguments.”

To be sure, I am not an ex-priest. As a child I considered becoming a priest, but like most fellow-countrymen of my generation, I outgrew the Roman Catholic religion. I am fully trained in historical method, one of my diplomas is in “Oriental Philology and History”, and I have quite a bit of hands-on experience with innovative historical research. As for my lack of credibility, it is a fact that people of Guha’s class were in no mind to lend me any credence, but none of them has ever demonstrated in writing any “shallowness” in my arguments. Neither does Guha in this column. While I have analysed the arguments of his school in considerable detail in my books on the Ayodhya question and on Hindu-Muslim relations in general, no refutation of my position has ever been produced.

As for the colour of my skin, it is his own school that has been using its white connections for decades as an implicit argument of authority. It seems that white people on average are quite silly, for most of them have lapped up the version of Indian history propagated by India’s “eminent historians” whose eminence results from their toeing the hegemonic party-line rather than from a respect for the data in the primary sources. Anyone with normal intelligence regardless of skin colour can sort out their distortions by using proper historical method.

In the meantime, my position has been endorsed by the Allahabad High Court, the one reasonably impartisan institution that has held both argumentations against the light. After availing itself of the best archaeological expertise, it has ruled in favour of the old consensus, upheld until 1989 by all sources but denied since then by Guha’s circles, viz. that Ayodhya is indeed a case of Hindu victimization by Muslims through the imposition of a mosque on a Hindu sacred site in forcible replacement of a temple. In its verdict, the Court has also given a most unfavourable judgment of the historical “method” of the anti-temple academics.

The right thing to do now for Ramachandra Guha is to offer his apologies to me for his exercise in defamation. Likewise, his entire circle of “eminent historians” ought to come forward with heartfelt apologies to Prof. B.B. Lal and the ASI archaeologists whom they have lambasted as “running-dogs of the Hindutva agenda” for their conscientious research that happened to confirm the old consensus. If the eminent historians want to save their honour for posterity, they should hurry to concede their mistake and do the honourable thing towards those whom they have slandered for being true to the method and facts of history.

After I heard of Guha’s column, I sent the following letter to The Hindu Magazine. I have not heard of its ever being published, but perhaps someone out there has better information. Here goes:

‘In his column “Foreign Certificates” (The Hindu Magazine, 4-1-2008), Ramachandra Guha makes allegations against a Belgian participant in the Ayodhya debate. Though he mentions no name, apparently to avoid libel charges, the description can only mean myself. One approximately true assertion of his is that I have confirmed the received wisdom that “Hindus had been victimised for thousands of years by Muslims and Christians”. Indeed, I don’t pretend to know it all better than top-ranking historians like Will Durant, who wrote that “the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history”; or Fernand Braudel, who wrote that “the Muslims could not rule the country except by sys¬tematic terror. Hindu temples were destroyed to make way for mosques.” Not a favoured view in Guha’s circles, but well-documented.

‘Then, Guha imputes to me the claim that “destroying a mosque, building a temple in its place, and sacrificing thousands of (mostly innocent) lives along the way was the only way that this cumulative historical injustice could be avenged”. That is a lie. My research findings on Ayodhya are extant in cold print, chiefly in my book “Ayodhya, the Case against the Temple”, 2002, available on-line, so anyone can verify that they do not contain anything like the injunction to mass murder that Guha imputes to me. Since I have better things to do than suing Mr. Guha for libel, I’ll be satisfied with an unqualified apology from him.

‘For the record, I have frequently emphasised the distinction between the historical record and contemporary policy, e.g. I have repeatedly written in support of the Serbs’ case against the injustices suffered at the hands of the Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims in the Ottoman and Nazi periods, yet condemning their mindless violence against contemporary Muslims. Guha’s own school could have made that same distinction, e.g. by saying that “it is a pity that Muslims destroyed Hindu temples, but that is no reason for us now to destroy mosques”, or so. Instead, at a time when their power in academe and the media was absolute and unchallenged by any capable Hindu opposition (as demonstrated in M.M. Joshi’s textbook reforms, a horror show of incompetence), it went to their heads and they thought they could get away with denying history. They did indeed get away with their bluff, and may well continue to do so for some more time. However, the prevalent power equation will not last forever, and one day the “secularist” exercise in history denial will be seen for what it was.’


Dinobondhu said...

Dear Mr. Elst,

I am an Engineer by Profession and currently doing research at RWTH Aachen. I have visited Leuven several times. I admire your opinions published in this blog.

I am currently scouting for resources to learn about the rise of Aryan Invasion Theory. Can you please help me with some "original" pointers in this regard. I am already familiar with some works of B B Lal.

Hope to meet you sometime. If you are in Aachen, please let me know. I can be reached at

I blog occasionally at

Anonymous said...

Respected Sir,

Namaskar and A Big Thank you.



"Secular" historians like Ramachandra Guha, who are given to 'spit and run' tactics are not known for their contrition even when caught with their pants down.

We admire your work in exposing these left-liberal pamphleteers masquerading as "historians."

We thank you for your "Ayodhya the finale - science versus secularism in the excavation debate" and other works in which you have put in perspective, the whole historical saga from the time Babur's lieutenant demolished the temple.

We have gratefully cited your esteemed work in the following article:


You might look up the following article too on the subject of India media treatment meted out to the Allahabad High Court judgement:


Ragu Kattinakere said...

I admire you for clarity in what you say, for keeping simple and repeatedly asserting the important point that Academic dishonesty was or is never "eminence".


First and foremost Mr. Ramachandra Guha was only a Cricket historian who changed the adjective as 'eminent' very recently. The media whose skeletons are likely to tumble very shortly are promoting such dubious historians at the cost of truth.

Pagan said...

Guha and his ilk will thrive as long as Social studies are taught in English. The "credibility" that Guha talks of is nothing but this English - and the colonial mindset.

I am not calling for a totally distancing from English. We need English in many places but Social studies is not one of them -- instead of solving any problem it breeds serious new problems in our society. Once we switch from English medium, the likes of Guha and Arudhati will no longer wield as much power.

Shrivathsa said...

One cannot expect much from the Chennai Based Chinese National Newspaper, The cHindu. They have sunk to standards beyond redemption. We stand by you in your pursuit of Truth and bringing it to public.

Hindu Internet Defence Force said...

Thanks a lot for writing this weblog. India had enough of fraud Historians. They fooled me for 20 Years

Gopi said...

Dear All,
Pl do something to help him as well. Buy his books, make small contribution, ask others to buy his books, buy n give to others, etc. He has paid a heavy price for his views.

Anonymous said...


OverTheHill said...

Below the cut is an extract from a post under the title 'Our intellectuals' from dated Monday, November 24, 2008.
(Emphasis delimiters **** added by this commenter.)

Apparently our bespectacled TV intellectual does not consider fact checking to be part of the historical method. A simple web search, which presumably is unnecessary (or perhaps beneath his dignity?) in the face of his omniscience, could have prevented such folly. Or is he simply lazy? It is not like he is a reporter laboring under a deadline.

>>>>Begin extract:
Guha writes:
Enough of nostalgia, I will be told. Forget the past — who now, in present-day India, is the politician who is not wholly unremoved from the style and strategies of the remarkable Barack Obama? Here again, there is an unacknowledged precursor, if at first glance a somewhat unlikely and unprepossessing one. Nitish Kumar has no Harvard degree (perhaps no degree at all). He dresses in a crumpled kurta, not a well-pressed suit. He is an indifferent orator. Still, he too speaks of, and in some measure, practises, a politics that is non-sectarian. When the National Democratic Alliance said that it would project the “Gujarat model of development” to the whole country, Kumar asked them instead to showcase the Bihar model of development, since it was “inclusive”. (The last word, as used by the Bihar chief minister, was an euphemism for “not anti-Muslim”.)
This paragraph vividly illustrates the sheer brazenness of our intellectuals. They do not even bother to do a basic fact check. ****Nitish Kumar has a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering.****
He was the railway minister before Lalu and although the media does not give him credit, he strengthened the railways. Lalu merely added froth and public relations.
This is the nature of political discourse in India. Sound bites - yes, substance nil. All you need to do is add a sprinkling of the magic keywords - social justice, secularism etc. No need to do any fact check. No need to do any research.
>>>>End extract

Vijay said...

Do respond in full force to psec historian Ramachandra Guha at his Email:

Anonymous said...

Hindu publishing your comment or article? I Need to think?

They do not even publish many readers comments.

As for its survival, I do not know how it gets its revenues; call it secret funding. Once it did get funding from Communist Russia.

CHAKRAM said...

Koenraad Ji,
you will last in history as the person who effectively paved the way for refuting the 'eminent' historians and their poisonous scandaling of history writing in Indian academia. History will not forget your contributions sir.

Once these prophetic religions are dried out of the world and all the people who are now following these religions are neutralized from those prophetic doctrines... all these religious problems will be solved over-night.

Gautam Sen said...

Ramachandra Guha is an arrogant buffoon recently appointed visiting LSE professor at the instigation of that other buffoon, Lord Meghnad Desai, who proposed the name of General Pervez Musharaff as an impartial intermediary to resolve the Kashmir issue in a House of Lords speech. Pleasing your paymaster is essential for social elevation and acquiring the hallowed status of a malicious buffoon. This is presumably why no such appointment is likely to be offered to Koenraad and neither is he likely to qualify as a buffoon and become the butt of adverse comment. India is full of self-regarding jokers and these two fools are not the worst.

Anonymous said...

Guha is a habitual 'secular' offender who uses disingenuous Historical methodology against those opposed to his Nehru-Gandhi vaad. His moral vacuity is reprehensible suggested by him slandering the good name of Dr Elst and attributing ignoble charges against him.

In his book India after Gandhi, he has made very grave and misleading statements against some pro Hindu politicians like Shyama Prasad, the foundation most of which is based on his biased scholarship. But Penguin's aggressive promotion of his books, coupled with the absence of good alternatives (special reference to India after Gandhi) has allowed the book to be rendered almost mandatory reading. No pro Hindu scholar so far has come up with a balanced, objective and powerful narrative of post independent India yet. Under these circumstances, you will have to remain subject to the hegemony of the likes of Guha and Bipin Chandra

Dan said...

Ramchandra Guha is riding high on a couple of books he has published off late. His bluff has been wonderfully called off in this post by Dr Elst.

May I know how to contribute to the research of Dr Elst?

Jay Bhattacharjee said...

Dear Dr. Elst : Bravo for yet another elegant and perceptive refutation of the rants of this perverted poseur, Guha. You have done a splendid job.

However, these people have such a stranglehold on the Indian media and academia that they get away with daylight murder all the time. Their concocted and distorted outpourings, that try to pass as scholarship, invariably get wide (and favourable) publicity, while people like you, Professor Lal, Ram Ohri and many others, are screened out.

However, let us keep our struggle going. Truth must (and will) prevail.

Jay Bhattacharjee

Dirt Digger said...

Shri Elst,
I have long admired your quest for ensuring that the true history of civilizations are not buried by biased historians.
In my blog, we are trying to provide the occasional informational post to your blog and do hope to continue to do so. Let us know if you would wish any additional assistance from us.

Sandeep said...

1. Have you considered publishing this in a major or semi-major Indian news paper?

2. It would be great if you write something like a weekly column on Indian history in an Indian newspaper. Have you considered it?

Gururaj B N said...

What else does one expect from the people of the ilk of Ramachandra Guha? He besides claiming to be a historian of 'eminence' also moonshines as an expert of cricket. Has anyone ever said anything to the effect that his cricket expertise in any manner affect his views as historian? For someone who wants to shape the history in contemporary mould, truth is most inconvenient, and so are anyone who point to historical truth, As Dr.Elst has been doing painstakingly. Ramachandra Guha's abuse is typical of leftist historians - where arguments fail, abuses follow. It seems Lenin gave this guideline: 'affix the badge of criminal on someone. It is for him to fight against it'. This is what Guha has done.

I think, Dr.Elst is far too benign and generous in excusing him by merely demanding unqualified apology. Guha ought to be shown the inside workings of Indian criminal courts for a few years!

P.N. Subramanian said...

Thanks for a wonderful post. The comments which are flowing in have made some value additions.

Unknown said...

As usual the humility and modesty of Dr. Elst is on full display against a rabid commie riff raff. Dr. Elst's arguments have substance and power of scholarly honesty and integrity whereas his detractors rely on deceit and leftist propaganda. we wish to treasure reading you for a long long time to come Dr. Elst.

aronite said...


How can a secular government run or take over a religious place of worship?

Can anything be more laughable and still be called secular?

Indians have reinvented the term secularism to mean 'State-curbing hinduism'-

while madrasas with Saudi funding sprawl all across and you cant touch them, nor churches with evangelical money from abroad!

Only Indians can stand on heads and call that straight-

Oxford dictionary-

Secularism- not connected with religious or spiritual matters:
secular buildings
secular attitudes to death
Contrasted with sacred

Weber's dictionary-

Indifference to or exclusion or rejection of religion

Now if you lookup for this much bandied about word by our secularvads- in merriam-webster dictionary-

secular state

The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary.

Now lets see Cambridge dictionary-

secularism noun /'sek.j?.l?r.?.z?m//-j?.l?-/ [U]
the belief that religion should not be involved with the ordinary social and political activities of a country

which means vice versa-

Does that obtain here? why is Haj subsidy here? 'Minority rights' educational enterprises, scholarships, quotas...?

Cambridge Dictionary-

secular humanism noun [U]
a set of beliefs which emphasize the importance of reason and of people rather than religion


Not all legally secular states are completely secular in practice.

In France for example, many Christian holy days are official holidays for the public administration, and teachers in Catholic schools are salaried by the state.[3] In India, the government gives subsidy in airfare for Muslims going on Haj pilgrimage(See Haj subsidy). In 2007, the government had to spend Rs. 47,454 per passenger.[4]

Thus, in the Commonwealth Realms, the head of state is required to take the Coronation Oath[5] swearing to uphold the Protestant faith.

The United Kingdom also maintains positions in its upper house for 26 senior clergymen of the established Church of England known as the Lords Spiritual.

Abhishekh Singhal said...

Elst Sir ,

Its far below your dignity to even accept apology from a leftist dog. Guha is a filthy mercenary feeding on Islamic money.People like him sell their soul to deceive their own countrymen.

Arun Nat said...

Over these years,two evident things glare at one's face and just cant fathom how people don't see it."the Hindu" is pro-Hinduism in its name.

R.Guha along with a few other constantly spoken about personalities and one Arundhathi Roy, are pseudo-intellectuals who subscribe to school which proclaims that anything in contrast to the popular belief or the apparent-truth must be intellectual.Though I see through their views,unfortunately don't have the expertise to debunk them.
Mr.Elst,glad that you have been doing it for long and your relentless explanations.I somebody can do the same in India at the grassroots.

Karthikrajan said...

Ramachandra guha has also been blasted by P.C Alexander in an article published in "Deccan Chronicle" for leaving out Vallabhai patel in his book : "10 great men who made modern india". He listed out the various work done by Patel in integrating all the princely states to India and wonders how Guha forgot all about it.
This only goes on to prove how the indian brand of secularism is converting talented people into crooked minded ones.


omK said...

Leftist indian historians...
Man, I Haven't laugh like this since Gandhi-s The Story of My Experiments with Truth. You made my day.
..Indian historians, mwaaaaa, stop it.

Great blog! Great author working on emptiness and uselessness.

Raman Nanda said...

Dear Mr Elst,

I have been following the debate on Ayodhya, more so the judgment and spent some time closely studying the judgment. Discovered to my horror that prominent left-wing historians -- authors of much of "established hisory" of India -- resorted to inventive assumptions about as factual a document as judicial verdict to denounce the same.

I am no historian, but, my study of the judgment, as a journalist, prompted me to write this piece, titled 'Marxist historians' fictitious critique'. May I take the liberty of drawing your attention -- as also of others who are interested in the subject -- to this article.

It is available at:



Truthfinder said...

You are THE intellectual and an honest Historian, Sir.You always put things rightly.You are the greatest of all "religio-political" observers.
"Don't twist facts to suit theories
;twist theories to suit facts"
And i know that you know and sincerely believe in this.So it's Ram Guha who will lose hands down if at all there's a debate between the two of you(Not that I believe this article is anything less than a bunch of statements made in an acrimonious debate, you have taken down Mr.Guha "head on" alright). Continue the gr8 work sir.

Shankar Sharan said...

@Inferno. You mentioned a vital point. Even foolish, contradictory and libelous articles written in English pass as intelellectual piece in India. Dr Ram Manohar Lohia had aptly compared it with a kind of witchcraft for the average Indian, who believes Guha type as big learned man - only because he writes in English. So, the poor Indian believes, it must be worthful.
Therefore, you are right in your assertion that if Social Studies discourse are conducted in Indian languages the Guha kind of writing would be pounced upon so directly that niether Guha nor his publisher would think it wise to do it so frequently.

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