Dharampal: Unpublished writings

Note: The following is an excerpt from unpublished writings of Dharampal available with SIDH. There is a powerful and coherent story that comes out when these unpublished writings are read together. We are looking for funds for collating and publishing this material as a book. Write to pawansidh@gmail.com if you can help us.

India does not begin in AD 1700, neither does it begin with the Islamic domination of parts of India around AD 1200 or from the incursions of Islam into Sindh in the 7th century AD, or the destruction of Somnath by Mohammad Gazni in the 9th century AD. India has had a very long existence and perhaps for most of this existence it had a very prosperous, scholarly, aesthetic society and vibrant polity. As an instance, modern western scholars have recently worked out that till about AD 1750 the China region and the India region together produced some 73% of the manufacturing output of the whole world. Even after the breakdown of the states and societies of these regions, industrial production was still around 60% of the world, till around 1830.

In recent years a few scholarly works have come out regarding the relations between India and China in the early 15th century. There is much information on the visits of the Chinese Admiral Zeng Ho to various countries of Asia and Africa including visits to India, especially several months stay in Calicut in 1405. In 1405 he was in Calicut with 300 ships and some 30,000 soldiers. Around the same time there were several Chinese ambassadors to Bengal and it is also stated that a number of ambassadors from Bengal had gone to China during the 15th century. There were probably similar links between China and other regions of India not only in the 15th century but perhaps from much before the beginning of the Christian era. If there were such links with China, it should imply that political, cultural and commercial links also existed with several other countries in east and Southeast Asia just as they existed with some of the Arab countries. The information which we get from these sources would not only help us re-build our relations with our neighbors but also may be of value in knowing more about our society of those times.

Such exploration and study of whatever is newly found could however lead man in several directions. Much of the research of the West since 1450 has led it to the conquest of the world and its plunder and the destruction of the environment as well as suppression and elimination of other human communities. In a way most of western research has been an accompaniment of despotism and worldwide imperialism.

It is possible that what has happened in the west could happen, in some distant future, in India also. But the greater chance in India, given India’s relative inwardness and pacific and non-violent nature and the slowness with which it moves, if it moves at all, is that such things would not conceivably happen in India. And at any rate, given India’s present absence of self-awareness, India must try to know itself by knowing what happened in its past over the past several thousand years.

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