No, certainly not.
The recent controversy over a painting, which many claimed to be Sri Krishna showing the Eid moon, exposes the thinking that has infected our academia and politics. The idea is that we should conceal history to promote a false plurality and harmony.
The controversy surrounds over the below painting:
Yogendra Yadav (Former AAP Leader), Shashi Tharoor (Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvanthaapuram) and Rana Safvi (Regular columnist for The Hindu) all shared this image as “Sri Krishna showing the Eid moon” or variations thereof. The dates of the painting varied from person to person. Some claimed it was 16th, others 17th and 18th century. Even the style of painting varied according to who you asked. Some claimed it was Rajasthani, when in fact it was Pahari. After True Indology, the popular twitter history handle, challenged the posters, the truth came out – the painting was not in fact Sri Krishna showing the Eid moon. According to renowned Art Historian B.N. Goswami, who said that it could possibly be a depiction of an episode in the Puranas. At this point, we only have the following information about the painting:
2. Facts about this alleged “Krishna showing Eid” painting 1) It wasnt painted by Mughal or Muslim artist. It was painted by Nainsukh’s Pahari succesoor 2) Painting does NOT depict Krishna showing Eid. The image depicts a scene from Bhagavata Purana 3) It depicts Krishna-Nanda — True Indology (@TrueIndology) June 17, 2018
Even after it came out that the painting was not what it was claimed to be, Yogendra Yadav defended the promotion of the tweet as a depiction of Hindu-Muslim unity.
I still maintain there’s nothing anti-Hindu about such reading of this painting, as is clear from ISKON, Dipankar Deb and Swarajyamag promoting it. I refuse to be apologetic about searching and highlighting authentic symbols of Hindu-Muslim unity. That’s my nationalism. — Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) June 17, 2018
The underlying idea and message from this and others can be made out. And this idea has permeated our academia, our media and our discourse.
Let me explain.
Take a look at the following tweets and the captions, all made sharing the image in the above controversy.
“Is this the India we have lost?” Says the Whatsapp message that Rana Safvi shared.
The tweet that Yogendra Yadav initially sent out also has a similar theme:
EID MUBARAK Reproduction of an 18th century Rajasthan miniature depicting Lord Krishna sighting the Eid moon and pointing it out to a group of Muslim men and women. Let’s resolve on this Eid to win back the spirit of Indìa the picture depicts. (Courtesy: Navina Jafa) pic.twitter.com/lwTraLYfo7 — Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) June 15, 2018
“Let [us] resolve on this Eid to win back the spirit of India the picture depicts.”
This picture, as True Indology noted, is not making an appearance for the first time on twitter. Rajdeep Sardesai shared it last year –
A 17th century painting depicting Krishna showing Eid moon to his Muslim friends!Wonder how painter would be labelled today? Anti-national?😄 pic.twitter.com/gZ7GcMFrYk — Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) June 26, 2017
Mr.Sardesai of course, is trying to summon the “intolerance” narrative.
What should be even more be shocking for a layman is that a professional historian like William Dalrymple also shared the image:
When the world was one: Krishna points out the Eid moon. Kangra, 18th century pic.twitter.com/UzBkhvWK3Y — William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) July 18, 2015
The agenda behind the sharing Of the tweet is even more clear if you see this tweet by Ms.Rana:
I’m sure many like me must be noticing the abuse being showered by certain right wingers on people posting a painting of Lord Krishna pointing to the Eid moon.. Stop & think What exactly about it threatens them? While we celebrate an inclusive India whereas they want to divide? pic.twitter.com/668w6OiCi1 — Rana Safvi رعنا राना (@iamrana) June 17, 2018
What point am I trying to make? That people promoted this painting to make a political and ideological point, one that fits their narrative. That everything was always hunky dory in India. That peace always existed. That we were all singing ‘kumbaya’ together.
I am not denying the existence of Hindu-Muslim unity, or its depictions. .The problem is the lies, the obfuscation and the falsification of history for the purposes of promoting a narrative. This ‘disease’ has infected. as I earlier said, the academia, the media and public discourse. We must conceal the history of the country, of the brutal invasions, the death and desolation that this nation faced in the times past, so that we could have a ‘brighter tomorrow’. Otherwise, the idea of national integration would be compromised, according to some.(I recommend that you read the novel ‘Aavarna’ by S.L. Bhyrappa to understand, specifically the beginning of Chapter 16, to understand the falsification I’m talking about.)
There is no righteousness in concealing the truth. And there is no righteousness in lying for some ideal or good. Inclusivity is a positive ideal, I am all for it. I am not for sharing lies to promote it, however. Some would have certainly shared this without knowing the truth, certainly. But the haste shown in defending the painting and the words used shows a very particular agenda.
We should apply the lessons learnt from this incident, as I noted: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAKrishnaS%2Fposts%2F904649246406550&width=500
It is more than pleasant to see the positive effect that social media is making. Otherwise, this painting and its title would have gone unchallenged, and even reach textbooks. After all, Tilak has been described as the ‘Father of Terrorism‘. Surely, that is not a step too far.