AHIMSA AND OTHER MYTHS IN THE HISTORY OF INDIAN FREEDOM STRUGGLE
History, whether ancient or modern is not a disinterested exercise narrating the events of the past. The historian selects events which suite his or her perspective and interpret them in the light of the current concepts or the historians pre-dialections. So much so that one theoretician recently called history a “mythistory” (Joseph Mali, Chicago University). That is why we have colonialist histories, nationalist histories, class histories, folk histories, oral histories, feminist histories, green histories etc etc. The history of the freedom struggle in India is not an exception to this rule. One of the frequent assertions about India’s freedom struggle is that it was mainly a non
violent struggle devised and promoted by Mahatma Gandhi who is extolled as the Apostle of Ahimsa. 2. The first inaccuracy in this assessment arises from the fact that the long freedom struggle including the 1857-58 Rebellion denigrated as Sepoy Mutiny by the colonialists and assessed by the patriots as the First Indian War of Independence and the innumerable struggles which began from the very year 1757 with Robert Clive’s victory at Plassey which laid the foundations of British Empire in India were ignored by the Mythistorians of ‘Ahimsa’. The armed resistance of defeated and disbanded local armies was boosted by the long and unimaginably self sacrificing fight put up by Wahabi Muslims, Hindu Sanyasis (as in Bankim Chandra’s Ananda Mutt) and the tribals like the Santhals in Bengal, Mayurbanj in Orissa and Bhils in Central India continued even after the feudal chieftains surrendered. Veerapandya Kattabomman in Tamizhakam, Velu Thampy in Travancore, Pazhassi Raja in Malabar and Kittur Channamma in Karnataka also heroically fought the alien conquerors with the help of tribals, peasants and disbanded armies. The martyrs of 1857 -58 like Jhansi Rani, Thanthiya Tope and Mangal Pandey are often.