Monday, October 18, 2010

Lonely Planet's Islamophobia

My Yahoo! column this week focuses on errors and biases in Lonely Planet's wildly popular India guide. Read the piece here.
A couple of years ago I emailed Lonely Planet, pointing out some of the errors mentioned in this article. I received no response, and when the new edition arrived I found it carried most of the same mistakes.


serving said...

dear girish,
have you apprised LP about it?
they might want to rectify it.
the guide book as such is pretty good.

Tulir - CPHCSA said...

Am so glad you highlighted some of the inaccuracies in the LP guide to India.
We had arun in with LP a few years ago when it was brought to our attention that there is a sub section on orophanages in the Mahabalipuram section.
This was especially troubling as it is well known that mahabalipuram is on teh itenary of most travelling child sex offenders. The heritage and tourist town has 40 Children's Homes, and has seen a couple of arrests of TSO's in the past few years. Morever one of the orphanges mentioned applied for a license to the Govt of TN, and was rejected. LP replied in an ambigous casual way when the matter was reporetd to them.

Anonymous said...

Very detailed and informative... hope LP rectify their biases and portray history as is!

Subhash from Bed and Brekafst Delhi said...

Loved your article on Yahoo! India. You have raised some valid points!

It is true that conversions increased with Mughal invaders & destruction of Hindu Temples as well, but the facts presentation should be non biased & accurate - which may not be the case!

Not only LP, worldwide be it UK or USA, there is islamophobia!

Hopefully, LP will correct the mistakes, now that you have pointed it out.

pillsol said...

Hey Girish,i completely agree with you on the lonely planet .whatever be the reason for errors/lapses/sheer laziness of research..cause like all business driven publications they look for things which are palatable to a larger audience ..and considering the paranoia which exists with all things islamic in the western world its not too surprising..but then who are we as indians to correct them,when we ourselves are woefully ignorant..neither realising the beauty of the tapestry that is our nation as is now nor having any inclination to know better..wont be too surprised if i see lp india as gospel for indians old and old and young much to know and imbibe..but do we really care..
sunil pillai

Banno said...

What an eye-opener, Girish. I had never seen my copy of the Lonely Planet carefully enough. Out it goes!

seana said...

That sounds pretty bad, and probably something I wouldn't have picked up on my own.

Okay, make that definitely wouldn't have, as I certainly know enough about Indian history to see the factual errors.

sameerpc said...

excellent ...

Girish Shahane said...

Sameer, Seana, Banno, Pillsol et al, thanks for your comments. I'd turned on comments moderation because of the invective such posts always receive. Usually I am notified of pending comments on my gmail account, but that isn't happening for some reason. I only saw your comments when I went to the Blogger dashboard. More than a dozen trolls had left messages as well.

Mohammed Abdur Rahman said...

Good work :-)

Anonymous said...

oh c'mon, it aint that bad.. as rightly mentioned in ur article's 1st two lines, india's history is a bottomless abyss, the more u seek the more is left still. LP (a bloddy 1500 page journal now!)mite have these errors here or there (btw, how do i know ur statements r true?) but u cannot take away from them their rather immaculate general info abt a town - maps, info abt lodging, tourist spots, getting there, etc. if u're really dat interested in history, and not sight-seeing, go to a library or hire a tourist guide at the plac visited! but who'll voiuch for their factual genuinity???

Girish Shahane said...

The tourist guides are worse than LP, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Typical secular lies.

So Jahangir was born in India and that makes him Indian.

By that logic all the British colonialists that were born within India were Indian's?

Jahangir destroyed several temples of the Hindus for religious reasons and killed Guru Arjun Devji for religious reasons.

In his autobiography he records that:

"In Gobindwāl, which is on the river Bīyāh (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun,* in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Gūrū, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.

At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger­mark in saffron, which the Indians (Hinduwān) call qashqa,* and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling-places, and children to Murtaẓā Khān, and having con­fiscated his property commanded that he should be put to death."

This is the fanatic you are praising as having improved the lives of the people?

Girish Shahane said...

Anonymous, no important British colonialists were born in India; but any Britons born and bred in India deserve to be treated on par with other Indians, just as Indians born in the UK today should be seen as British.
The passage you quote from Jehangir shows that he ordered Guru Arjun killed for political rather than religious reasons. Jehangir's son Khusrau was in revolt at the time, threatening the empire. Guru Arjun took political sides by endorsing Khusrau, and was therefore seen as an enemy to be done away with. Jehangir also ordered the deaths of many Muslims who gave Khusrau asylum in that period.
Guru Arjun's son, the sixth Sikh guru Har Gobind became a close friend of emperor Jehangir a few years after Guru Arjun's death. He was seen as a political threat because he raised an army, but once Jehangir ascertained that Har Gobind would not revolt against Mughal authority, he curtailed neither his military nor his religious activities.
Jehangir did not destroy Hindu temples.

Meher Makda said...

I am originally from Pakistan and I used LP when I visited India. I am glad that you wrote this article. Good job!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. No more lonely planet!

Girish Shahane said...

I continue to get a lot of negative feedback for this article. My advice for those who want to debate the issues: please stay civil. If you look at past entries on this blog you will find very involved debates with people who were of a radically different opinion.
One of the best things about a blog is being able to engage in conversations with readers.
However, if you include personal insults in your comments, I will immediately delete them, and you will have wasted your time.

Anonymous said...

I have never read any LP guide so wasn't sure about their quality but they are used by Western tourists a lot so it is important to have accurate information there or at least nothing biased against a particular community.

thanks for this beautiful piece.


seana said...

I think it should probably be said that Lonely Planet is the kind of travel series that students, low-budget travelers, and all kinds of people with fairly open and expansive takes on the world would use, partly just to find the cheaper places to eat and sleep, but also to seek out interesting, non-tourist bus kind of places. Which is why it makes the more subtle anti-Islamic statements more dangerous. I don't for a moment think that this is the 'agenda' of Lonely Planet, but I do think it's something they have to be responsible for all the same. People do rely on these guides for their entry into foreign lands. I think most people who use them will probably actually be the kind to talk to local people, and be able to sort out the facts for themselves. But the current fears and feelings about Islam in the West mean that travel guide writers need to be especially careful about using inaccurate information that might fuel that fire.

As Any Fule Kno said...

What historical veracity and rigor can you expect from a guide written by (Australian) tourists?

Girish Shahane said...

Exactly right, Seana, I wish I'd made this line of argument clear in my piece. A lot of people have responded saying, "Well, I only use it for the maps", but of course nobody ONLY uses it for the maps. The accuracy and helpfulness of LP's major selling points gives widespread play to the seemingly unimportant history sections. The whole thing becomes more insidious and dangerous as a result.

work_in_progress said...

I really liked the bit where you compare how the Christians arrived but the Muslims invaded. Good article. I am wondering who/what where the sources of the tourists writing it.

Anonymous said...

Invectives apart, I'd be interested in what the negative feedback to the piece consists of. I guess many of the recommendations are equally wonky. A mother-daughter pair of American backpackers asked for a lift till Rishikesh on my way to Haridwar, I dropped them off at a hotel which LP had ranked the highest. Turned out to be a little hole in the wall establishment atop a PCO. Needless to day it was full, luckily for us found a more comfortable looking hotel in the vicinity for same tariff at 4 in the morning.

Zishaan said...

Good articles.

Anonymous said...

Hi Girish

I agree with you that the authors of Lonely planet may have gone over the top in their negative portrayal. But your view are not neutral too. Do you realize that?

The truth is as always somewhere in the middle.

The authors were overenthusiastic in describing the Muslim destruction of Hindu temples. Still there is some truth in that belief. In your case you seem to be trying to supress that very fact.

Which is more misleading the readers, I leave it to the readers to decide.


Girish Shahane said...

You, and all the others who have said the same thing considerably less politely, and equally anonymously, are wrong. Read the article carefully and you will see that I don't attempt any suppression. For example, I state that, "Mahmud did, indeed, loot the Brajeshwari temple".
You are also wrong about the truth always being somewhere in the middle. In the choice between, "The sun revolves round the earth' and 'the earth revolves round the sun', the truth does not lie somewhere in the middle.

ah said...

Hello Girish

You have to be commended to bring the errors in Lonely Planet to attention. But is it errors or Islamophobia which is a loaded word to use.

The position of the sun and the moon have been independently verified. But at this point in time we have not heard from Lonely planet on this issue and neither has anybody verified your claims as well. The biases can be seen so normally truth is somewhere between the extremities.

It is just my opinion, but we need to hear from both the sides in your comments. If the commentors are not civil, then it only reflects badly on them and their case. Again the readers can decide.


Girish Shahane said...

AH, I don't understand in what way I am being extreme.
Secondly, if you want to wait for Lonely Planet to respond, that's fair enough. But why comment in advance of such a response, and presume I am not telling the truth?
There are plenty of places on the Web where trolls can, and do, spew their hatred. I don't intend giving them one more outlet for their rage, and allow venomous personal attacks to take the place of reasoned argument.
Besides, I'd allow even that kind of attack, provided it was made by a person using his or her own name in a verifiable form. I find debating anonymous or pseudonymous commentators a pointless exercise. If they have the courage of their convictions, they shouldn't hide behind anonymity.

Anonymous said...


Few points here

1. It appears to me you don't take lightly to criticism and construe them as attacks.

2. The points and issues raised by the posters matter, their names do not. Anybody can fake a name.

3. It does not seem you are keen to provide a fair hearing to both sides since you have made up your mind on the issue.

4. Nothing wrong with that, but you should have it in your header that you represent the left, or the right or the seculars (pseudo). At least we know where you are coming from and will not blame you for censorship.

5. My personal opinion, but a healthy exchange is good for the blog.

6. These days we cannot squelch information since readers have access to censorship free information. Ultimately they will decide how biased or otherwise an article/author is.

7. If you don't like the anonymous facility, you can take it out.


Girish Shahane said...

Raj, I'm tiring of this exchange. You haven't actually made a single point rebutting anything I've written; except an a priori assertion that the truth is always in the middle.
About what to do with guys making personal comments, that's entirely my decision since it is my blog. When you start a blog, you are free to allow anonymous attacks of your integrity.
I have not rejected any attempts to engage in actual debate.

Vibha said...


Is there evidence that Aurangzeb toured Ellora site at least once?

Girish Shahane said...


Vibha said...


Can you please refer me to the evidence - that Aurangzeb toured Ellora site at least once?

Thank you

Girish Shahane said...

Jadunath Sarkar refers in his biography of the emperor to Aurangzeb's letter about Ellora, in which the king calls the caves transcendent creations. Though that letter appears to be the only direct reference to Aurangzeb touring Ellora, he spent so many decades near the site that he probably went more often.
Sarkar's biography is not online, but this article refers to the letter:

NP said...

Looks like somebody has tried to engage Lonely Planet in a discussion on your piece:

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks for pointing that out, NP. I've written my own response (which I now realise contains a couple of typos. But I'm cutting and pasting it here, typos and all. I'll have to do it in parts, because comments can't be over a certain word length.

Girish Shahane said...


Thanks for posting my article on Thorn Tree. Janet, thanks for your reply.

I have done a search of the text of the 2007 edition of Lonely Planet, and here are the occasions when the word invaders appears:
"India's Muslim invaders contributed their own architectural conventions, including arched cloisters and domes" (page 76). This instance is quoted in my article.

"While the Indian campaigns of the Persian king Darius and Alexander the Great reached Punjab before faltering, the more successful Mughal invaders regularly surged through the area" (page 260). I don't understand the meaning of this: The Mughals invaded once from Kabul, and established an Indian empire.

"Famous for its wealth, the temple was looted by a string of invaders, from Mahmud of Ghazni to Jehangir." (page 331) This is quoted in my article. It is incorrect on two counts: Jehangir was not an invader, and he did not lot the temple. I wouldn't blame Janet for not comprehending the political background to labelling of Jehangir an 'invader'. What it indicates is that Muslim rulers could never be Indian, no matter how long they stayed or how long they ruled. Jehangir never left the subcontinent in his entire life. This was true of the vast majority of India's Muslim rulers, but Lonely Planet keeps using the 'invader' label for these indigenous rulers.

"Following the decline of the Mughal empire, Persian invaders stepped in briefly before
the nawabs of Avadh rose to prominence in the central part of the region" (page 395).

"There has been a succession of Shiva temples in the vicinity, but they were routinely
destroyed by Muslim invaders". (page 430) Again, the combination of Muslims' status as outsiders and as destroyers of Hindu culture.

"However, soon after, Buddhism went into decline, and when Muslim invaders destroyed and desecrated the city's buildings, Sarnath disappeared altogether" (page 439) Same as above. No mention of the destruction of Sarnath by Hun invaders in the pre-Islamic period.

"After being razed by 11th-century Muslim invaders, the temple underwent major restorations, the last in 1882" (page 559). This is about the Mahabodhi temple.

"Whatever the answers, Khajuraho's isolation helped preserve it from the desecration Muslim invaders inflicted on 'idolatrous' temples elsewhere". (page 673) This has been discussed in my article.

"Under threat from Afghan invaders from the north, the Chandelas forsook Khajuraho
for their forts". Also on page 673. The question nis, if the Chandelas were threatened by Afghans while the Khajuraho complex was alive and vibrant, what are the odds that these Afghans knew nothing about the existence of this massive group of temples?

About Daulatabad fort: "Part of the ascent to the top goes through a pitch-black spiralling tunnel - down which the fort's defenders hurled burning coals, arrows or even boiling water at invaders". (page 809)

"Over the centuries Madurai has come under the jurisdiction of the Cholas, the Pandyas, Muslim invaders, the Hindu Vijayanagar kings, and the Nayaks, who ruled until 1781" (page 1083). This has been quoted in my article.

This is the sum total of all mentions of the word 'invaders' in the book. The British and the Portuguese are never referred to in those terms. Neither are Gurkhas or Japanese. Janet merely states they are, but does not provide a quote to prove her case. It's important to understand that the connotations of 'invader' are very different from 'conqueror' and a number of other terms used to describe those victorious in battle.

Girish Shahane said...

My response, continued:

She also says that not all of the inaccuracies I point out are actually mistakes, but, again, doesn't provide any actual rebuttal. I state in my article that Rani Padmini is a fictional creation; that there is no evidence of Mughals vandalising Konark; that the Sun Temple had no loadstone; that Jehangir did not loot the Brajeshwari temple; that Allaudin Khilji was not a Pathan and Ahmad Shah Durrani was not a Mughal. If she can prove any of these are mistakes, let her do so providing historical references.

I have searched for the sentence she quotes about Portuguese conquerors imposing their religion, and it does not appear in the copy of Lonely Planet India that I have. Perhaps a new edition not currently available in India includes that quote. Or perhaps it is taken from the more detailed Goa book, which does speak of the Inquisition.

The point I'm highlighting is not that Lonely Planet makes Muslims out to be villains in every reference to that religion; nor that it excuses acts of European invaders. If it did that, the fact would be apparent to all travellers. I mean, you can't have a guidebook to India that does not rave about the beauty of the Taj Mahal. No, Lonely Planet's India guide is much more insidious in its Islamophobia. It's possible to read all the history in the book without realising its slant, unless you are attuned to debates surrounding rule by Muslim kings in India.

Girish Shahane

Sunil GR said...

Here is the scholarly rebuttal of your article. Please respond to it.

C said...

Here is an excellent rebuttal to your 'Islamophobia-phobic' piece.

Please care to take up the challenge for a debate from Shri Sandeep.

Girish Shahane said...

I'm on my way out to Delhi, but I will respond to these claims one time. I will not get into a discussion about the history of Muslim rulers in India, for that is futile and far beyond the scope of the article.

1) India being a tricky place. Sandeep does not contest this, he merely points out there are other tricky places in the world. I agree with him that India is not the only place where separating fact and fiction is difficult; I do not make any claim in my article about India's uniqueness in this regard.

2) The Sun temple: Sandeep misreads a paragraph from the website he quotes. It reads: "According to Afsanah-i-Shahan of Shaikh Kabir Batini Shahan of Shaikh Kabir Batini, he was a Batini Afghan. According to the history of Orissa, Kalapahad invaded Orissa in 1508. He destroyed Konark temple, as well as a number of Hindu temples in Orissa."

It is not Shaikh Batini, but some vague 'history of Orissa' that says Kalapahad destroyed the Konark Temple. Batini only describes Kalapahad as a Batini Afghan.

So Sandeep is mistaken in claiming a source for the purported destruction of the Sun Temple in the Afsanah-i-shahan.

3) Brajeshwari Temple: when i speak of inventing acts of destruction by Muslim rulers, I am in no way suggesting there were no such acts of destruction. So there is no flaw in my logic. Mahmud did destroy some temples as did Auranzeb, as did a number of other Muslim rulers. However, Jehangir did not loot the Brajeshwari temple, and Sandeep admits he has no evidence that Jehangir did so. Therefore, I can legitimately call it an invented act of Muslim vandalism.

4) Amritsar: Sandeep begins by saying, "Sure LP got it wrong". That's what I'm claiming: LP got it wrong.

5) Padmini and Chittor: Sandeep begins by saying, "Admittedly, the whole Padmini tale is something that the wandering minstrels of Rajasthan thought up over time and if LP has mentioned it, it needs to be corrected." Well, that's what I'm claiming as well. For a supposed rebuttal, it's amazing how infrequently the points I make have actually been rebutted. In the case of the Brihadareshwara temple, the Golden Temple, the Brajeshwari Temple and Chittor fort, Sandeep finds no historical flaw in my account. He is only concerned to show other bits of history important to him, but which are irrelevant to the Lonely Planet issue.
The only place so far where he has tried rebutting a point I make was in the case of the Sun Temple. And, in that case, he has misread a web page, and attributed something to Batini that is not in Batini's book.

Girish Shahane said...


6) Khajuraho: Sandeep says, "Perhaps LP needs to reword “Khajuraho’s isolation”. That's all I'm saying, too. The inference that follows may be all right for an ideologue, but surely not for a guidebook.

7) Ellora: Sandeep says the caves were discovered by John Smith. This is false. John Smith 'rediscovered' the Ajanta caves (more accurately, he brought them back to national prominence, the locals always knew about them). He did not rediscover Ellora. The site of Ellora is much more prominent that Ajanta. While the Ajanta caves are carved out of a cliff, Ellora is at ground level very close to important forts and towns. Unlike Ajanta, Ellora was never forgotten, it always had streams of visitors, partky because the caves are a mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain shrines, while Ajanta is almost exclusively devoted to a religion which faded from India, Buddhism.

There is proof that Aurangzeb visited Ellora in his letters. he writes about the caves as transcendental creations.

8) Goa and the Inquisition: Sandeep writes, "I kind of agree with Girish". Well, thank you.

9) Vijaynagar. I don't believe even Sewell's account gives anything like a case that Vijayanagar was formed as a confederacy of Hindu kings banding against Muslims. besides, he admits he is guessing, "Perhaps the most reasonable account would be one culled from the general drift of the Hindu legends combined with the certainties of historical fact".

It's over a century since Sewell wrote his book. More scholarly accounts of the founding of Vijayanagar are available, and these give little credence to the confederacy theory.

10) The Fesishta reference. Sandeep provides accounts claiming 1,00,000 deaths as opposed to Ferishta's half million. Sandeep agrees with me about Fersihta's embellishments. The five fold difference is important, because the Vijayanagar king massacred 1,00,000 too.

So, by my calculation, Sandeep has no rebuttal to offer in the case of Brihadeshwar, Brajeshwari, Amritsar, Chittor, Goa and Khajuraho.

He provides a false primary source (Shaikh Batini) to back up his assertion about th Sun temple.

He gets it wrong about the discovery of Ellora and Aurangzeb's visit to the site.

In the case of Vijayanagar, he provides a century old British source who guesses a Hindu confederacy might have been the origin of the kingdom. And he accepts an estimate of deaths that is 80% lower than the one in Ferishta, and therefore equivalent to deaths ordered by the Vijayanagar kind in an earlier attack against the Bahmanis.

All in all, I don't think he has found much wrong in my article at the factual level. He disagrees, of course, at the ideological level, being a committed Hindutvavadi. But it's an exaggeration to call his post a 'scholarly rebuttal'.

Anonymous said...

Girish's truthphobia

The rebuttal is based on mostly nonsense. You are merely scoring points without bothering to touch upon the truth of the matter.

eg. you write in point "2) The Sun temple: Sandeep misreads a paragraph from the website he quotes. It reads: "According to Afsanah-i-Shahan of Shaikh Kabir Batini Shahan of Shaikh Kabir Batini, he was a Batini Afghan. According to the history of Orissa, Kalapahad invaded Orissa in 1508. He destroyed Konark temple, as well as a number of Hindu temples in Orissa."

It is not Shaikh Batini, but some vague 'history of Orissa' that says Kalapahad destroyed the Konark Temple. Batini only describes Kalapahad as a Batini Afghan.

So Sandeep is mistaken in claiming a source for the purported destruction of the Sun Temple in the Afsanah-i-shahan."

Whether Sandeep is mistaken about the Afsanah-i-Shahan or is hardly the historical fact in question You have selectively quoted from the web-page in question to prove that Sandeep has wrongly cited the Afsha... . However, there is nothing in the external web site to substantiate the claim that in the Afsha... there is NO description of Kala... destroying the template. It may still be there. Sure Sandeep may be mistaken, but then the author of that web-page may just have introduced "history of Orissa" to buttress his claim.

Furthermore, and this is the real humdinger. On that very same web-page just after the lines quoted by you are more lines: "The Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple describes how Kalapahad attacked Orissa in 1568. Including Konark temple, he broke most of the images in most of the Hindu temples in Orissa. Though the stone walls are of 20 to 25 feet (7.6 m) thick, he somehow managed to displace the Dadhinauti (Arch stone) and thus caused the tower to collapse. He also damaged most of the images and other side temples of Konark. Due to displacement of the Dadhinauti, the tower gradually collapsed and the roof of the Mukasala was also damaged, due to the stones falling down from the temple top."

This is Sandeep's real point. So there is a historical source which claims that Kala... destroyed the temple. This you conveniently ignore.

Could go on about other inanities but rather waste my time on other stuff. Please feel free to respond with more left-wing pseudo-rational gobbledy-gook

seana said...

Although I think above I mistyped and said something to the effect of knowing a lot about Indian history, I actually meant the reverse. Nevertheless, it's been interesting to try and follow the exchange here, as it's quite clear that there is an ideological debate going on, it's just that as an outsider, I don't have the means to understand it.

I do still think that there is already quite enough kneejerk anti-Muslim sentiment here in the U.S. without anyone fanning the fire, inadvertent or unconscious though it may well have been.

Girish Shahane said...

Anonymous, one can always find sources to buttress arguments about past atrocities. You can even provide sources for the story of Padmini. Specifically, it is found in Malik Jayasi's Padmavat. But the Padmavat is not a work of history. Neither is the Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple.
He provided one serious historical source: the Afsanah-i-shahi, and he misquoted it.

Anonymous said...

Girishji: Maybe Lonely Planet should have been somewhat subtle and politically correct but the only thing that all of us have seen is the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas and i hope all of us agree on who destroyed them. I guess 100 years from now, some columnist might write on Google blog that Bamiyan Buddhas most probably collapsed from natural causes rationalizing that Taliban was protected by Pakistan which was a friend of China and China won't have allowed destruction of Buddha statues!

Swarup said...

Madala Panji is a source of history, simply because every day to day happenings were recorded in it.

Rasheed said...

Atleast LP listens while you have locked away all dissent by enabling comment moderation. Have you written any article on free speech? Hain!

M. Patil said...

Girish said:
"There is proof that Aurangzeb visited Ellora in his letters. he writes about the caves as transcendental creations."

Any souces for this bit of info?

B.t.w it is a fact that a Britisher discovered Ajanta and Ellora caves. Aurangazeb knew nothig about what is inside those caves.

Girish Shahane said...

Anonymous, I have seen the Bamiyan Buddhas being destroyed by fanatical Muslims, and the Babri masjid destroyed by fanatical Hindus.

Girish Shahane said...

Swarup, the Madala Panji is an important source for day to day happenings related to the Jagannath temple. It is not a source of the history of the Konark Temple.
I reiterate, Abul Fazl wrote about the Sun Temple in admiring tones long after Kalapahar's supposed destruction of it. Isn't it strange that a temple supposdely destroyed around 1570 is stated to be intact a couple of decades later?

Girish Shahane said...

Rasheed, I'm afraid you entirely misunderstand what free speech is all about. I would be curtailing your right to free expression if I stopped you from expressing a non-libellous opinion on your own blog or some other forum. On my blog, I have every right to moderate comments.
Next you will say I am curtailing your right to free movement because I lock my door and don't allow you to enter my house and squat in it.

Girish Shahane said...

M.Patil, I mentioned the source: it is Aurangzeb himself. He was a prolific letter writer, and many of these letters have been published in the original and in translation.
The tragedy is that readers cannot tell what a good source is and what isn't. That's the whole point of my article about Lonely Planet. They used sources for each of their assertions; they just did not know how to distinguish between historically accurate sources and those who were embellishing facts or making things up.
Any sentence in a website becomes a 'source', which is then relayed across the Web among fellow-believers, as in an echo chamber. Sandeep did exactly that. He merely cut and pasted bits from websites, misunderstanding them half the time. At the end of which what he produced was supposedly a 'scholarly rebuttal'.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, I have seen the Bamiyan Buddhas being destroyed by fanatical Muslims, and the Babri masjid destroyed by fanatical Hindus."

Wrong analogy. Bamiyan Buddhas were not built after destroying the mosque in Mecca. The closest analogy to Ayodhya is Somnath. On another rejoinder you write "On my blog, I have every right to moderate comments." Similarly, in their holy places Hindus also have a right to remove encroaching structures that violate their right to worship.

Girish Shahane said...

I guess you don't believe in the Indian constitution, and believe it is any Hindu's right to correct grievances from centuries ago, real of imagined.

Well, we differ. Your stand is precisely what I call Islamophobia.

If you want to comment further, please do so under a verifiable identity.

Romesh said...

Hi Girish

I read Sandeep's blog response to yours. Its a very good piece backed with a lot of empirical evidence and solid quotes. Why not you and he have a debate in a forum where both can directly contest the other?

Yours sincerely

Girish Shahane said...

I have already rebutted Sandeep's arguments in comments on this thread. It's scholarly virtues are greatly exaggerated, I'm afraid; and though he says I get it mostly wrong, in the end he has not proven the inaccuracy of a single sentence of mine. He makes serious errors in attributions concerning Konark and Ellora, two of the three places where he actually takes issue with something I have said. The rest of his post is about something he thinks I should have said.
I am not posting your other long comment because it is merely a rant against Islam and nothing to do with what I have written.

Anonymous said...

While you dismiss Sandeep on concentrating on other bits of history. What he has pointed is the kernal of truth behind some of the "legends" for which you seem to have no answer. Jahangir did destroy temples, Ahmed Shah Durrani did sack amritsar, Khilji wasn't really a beacon of good behavior. Maybe he didn't prove too many errors but intent to obscure perhaps is more prominent in your article.

Girish Shahane said...

Anonymous, I have never said Muslim rulers didn't sack cities.
Sandeep headline his post, "Girish Shahane gets it mostly wrong". And then could not actually point to a SINGLE error in my article. In fact, Sandeep himself made two howlers while trying to correct me.
As for all the other stuff he wrote, his blog is full of that rubbish and I have no intention of taking him on about those extraneous things, because I don't have an infinite amount of time on my hands.
Besides, I know Hindutvavadis aren't going to change their opinion anyway. See how they are brushing off the two clear errors that I showed regarding the Sun Temple and Ellora, in his piece.
Facts don't matter to them, really. But they do, or should, matter to Lonely Planet.

Kris said...

Just like the way you have questioned Lonely Planet.Sandeep has questioned your article don't try to escape by brandishing him as "Hindutvavadi" which you may feel is a easy way out but some may feel you are an escapist.

Sandeep seems to have done some research acknowledging the same will not lower your prestige

Girish Shahane said...

I have already rebutted the points Sandeep made in his post. Far from acknowledging the mistakes I pointed out, he is now obfuscating the issue with more verbiage.
He does, however, fit the Hindutvavadi mould perfectly. Anybodu whose sole purpose in life appears to be to vilify Islam and glorify the Hindu past qualifies as a Hindutvavadi in my book.
I don't see why it should be a problem to acknowledge Hindutvavadiness. Garv se kahon hum hindutvavadi hain...

shrieks said...


I *think* I understand where you are coming from, and as I commented elsehwere, your effort in continuing a valid dialogue is commendable.
I do have this question though - why do you not take umbrage against LP not demonising the Christian invaders? Yes, you have said something like 'Muslims invade while Christians merely arrive' according to LP - I agree.
But your subsequent comments (in comments section) do not highlight this dichotomy at all. Is it because no Christvadi (my coinage) has debated your claim?
I ask because I am merely curious. Do respond if you get time.

Shreekar Joshi (not anonymous :))

PS: I liked your analogy about freedom of speech and locking your home :)

Girish Shahane said...

I'm not sure I understand the question, Shrieks; I don't believe any faith should be demonised, but in any historical account of Goa, a mention of the horrors of the inquisition is appropriate, and I have indicated as much.
Thing is, the history of the inquisition is very well established, and so no Christvadi is likely to find any material to suggest an alternative reading of it. When it comes to Hindu - Muslim conflict, however, the entire history is very fraught and filled with myths. Many of those arguing against me have taken precisely such myths as history. The difference in the status of the historical record might account for the fact that no 'Christvadi' has taken issue with my writing.