Interview with Kanchan Banerjee, Author of The Crash Of A CivilizationKanchan Banerjee started researching and studying Indian history in world contexts to determine why Indians are so naive and forgetful about their past and utterly indifferent about their future and the way out. This book is a result of that quest.
on Dec 21, 2022
Kanchan Banerjee was born in West Bengal, India, where he had first-hand experience of Communist movements, including the rise of the Communist Left Front and Naxalism. He has also had excellent experiences through his interaction with the Muslim community in his native place in Bardhhaman. Later, he moved to the United States, where he started researching and studying Indian history in world contexts to determine why Indians are so naive and forgetful about their past and utterly indifferent about their future and the way out. This book is a result of that quest.
Frontlist: What is a civilizational crash? When, according to you, did our civilization collapse?
Kanchan: Many of us are familiar with the work of Samuel Huntington, who wrote about the ‘Clash of Civilizations’. Various civilizations, such as Western, Islamic, Abrahamic, Hindu/Indian, Chinese etc., have shaped the global culture and narratives on different matters. When the values, culture, and modus operandi of each do not see eye to eye, meaning there is competition and a war of ideas and goals - conflict is bound to happen. In the case of India, it is the only continuous civilization that survived the onslaught of many hostile forces. Greeks, Meopotemaians, Egypt, Persia – all civilizations are gone for good. Even China lost its cultural heritage of Budda and Confucious and adopted a western one, i.e., communism. The survival of civilizations has two aspects, the inner power to sustain assaults and the power to defeat hostile forces. In the case of India, centuries of assaults made it weak and down, it crashed, but it somehow survived while most others did not.
To your second question – Bhartiya civilization never ‘collapsed.’ There were many clashes, and it was damaged, wounded, and trampled on, but it never collapsed, unlike most other civilizations. The forces of Islam converted much of Africa, Middleeaser including the great Persian civilization, and also parts of Europe. But India fought and never surrendered to the Greeks, Huns, Sakas, and the Islamic invasions. This is due to the inner power of the civilizations. Millions gave life to defend society and country and are a winner still. And the assaults continue in various forms, conversion, market capture, and political colonialism via various ideologies, including failed yet still active ideology of Marxism.
Frontlist: The book provides a new perspective on civilizations and how Western forces influenced Indian civilization. Do you agree with me?
Kanchan: By West, if you mean the forces from the western side of India, yes. India is a pluralistic, open civilization. It accepts all thoughts from everywhere. Yet firm in its commitment to truth and Dharma, the principles and acts of sustainability.
When we talk about the West, one has to understand what is ‘West’. Original Western thinkers like Plato, Socrates, and Archimedes were close to the thinking of India, and some of them may have visited India. But once Christianity became a state religion for most western nations, it suffocated and persecuted people, and even Galileo had to suffer for seeking and telling the truth. Vatican and Church became the oppressive imperial force, eventually giving birth to the colonist forces. The Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English people started colonizing the world and used Christianity to control millions' minds to rule and loot these nations. That colonial power has also distorted the history of these nations by making them feel inferior. That’s what British colonists did.
But long before that, when Mongol Chengiz blood mixed with Turkik nomads along with Islamism, it became a massively damaging force for the native people everywhere. While the nations in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Europe surrendered to this power within 100 years of the advent of Islam, it took them nearly 500 years to reach mainland India due to severe resistance by the people of India.
These forces used two Abrahamic religions – Christianity and Islam. Both are extremely antagonistic to the Vedic ideas of pluralism. Both were addicted to iconoclasm and imposing their religion on others and rule. The result was horrific. Some scholars estimate that over 80 million lives were lost; over 40000 temples and numerous universities were destroyed during the Islamic invasion of India.
Britain destroyed the Indian local education system and industries and caused the death of over 100 million deaths in man-made famines. These alien forces deeply impacted Indian culture, and the result is felt every day by every Indian today. And the process of colonization – narratives, thought processes, society, and economy is still going on in new forms via new channels. I call these New Colonists NeoCols.
Frontlist: How do you feel about various countries and individuals ruling India, and how has this affected India and its people?
Kanchan: It is a myth that India, Bharat, was ruled for centuries by alien powers. The forces who came to India before the Turks and Arabs as invaders; there is no trace of them today in India. Yes, it is true that some of these forces ruled Delhi, but even the Mughals did not have control over the entire India, and it was less than 200 years. British Raj also had control, but it was for less than 100 years. India fought and became free of the Islamic occupation of Delhi by 1707 after the death of Aurangzeb and the British imperial forces by 1947. It is a sad saga of Indian history that was initially written by the victors, especially the colonists, which glorified the invaders and occupying forces and erased the glorious history of India through a dark conspiracy and strategy. History definitely affects collective consciousness and, thus, behavior. Even after 75 years of independence, the history of India taught in the schools is more or less a Colonist-Islamist-Marxist version of Indian history. My book explores this area in depth. Why this distortion happened and how.
Frontlist: What are some ways in which Western civilization differs from past civilizations, and what does this mean for its current trajectory?
Kanchan: It is evident that the knowledge and vidyas of Bharat influenced the entire world. Plato, Socrates, and Archimedes are a few examples that were influenced by Bharatiya thoughts. But unfortunately, today, the West thought process does not really respect the deeper aspects of their own sages. Today’s culture is about materialism and greed. While modern western civilization is leading the scientific discovery and technology thereof, it has been misused to such a degree that we have to deal with many global crises and the main once are Climate Change, pollution, and a significant increase of diseases such as Diabetes and Cancer. Western culture of overuse of natural resources guided by the greed of the profit mongers is responsible for it. The contrast is that Bharat always respected nature and, religiously, consciously protected land, water, plants, and animal kingdoms. Some parts of the world civilization disappeared due to the overuse of natural resources. Yet the world survived until the current crises was created after the industrial revolution.
If we think of a trajectory, on the one hand, modern science and spiritual sciences such as yoga can take the human potential to infinity, on the other hand, there is a risk of this civilization falling into dust due to the ideologies of greed, religious bigotry and backwardness and imperial and colonial mindset of dominion and destruction of the good in the world. The battle between the Devas and Asuras continues.
Frontlist: What impact did Muhammad's death have on the Islamic world?
Kanchan: There are several billion people who follow the religion established by the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. However, while the world was impacted by his ideas and ideals, Including 41 wars of Jihad, right after his death, in a turn of events, a major family feud erupted. And the Muslim world was quickly divided into Shia and Sunnis and many more branches of each sect. Nations such as Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia) are arch-enemies. Different sects within Muslim countries discriminate or fight against opposing sects. More people die in the world in fights between various Islamic forces than fights against the ‘kafirs’, the non-believers. But the idea of Jihad, a religious war to conquer people, societies, and lands by force or via treachery, such as the global Christian missionary conversion agenda, continues. This is harming and slowing down the process of the arrival of a higher spiritual civilization on earth.
Frontlist: What was the role of Indian national politics during the British period, and what made it so important at the time?
Kanchan: After the great rebellion of 1857, people realized that unless there was an organization for the good of the people of India, as opposed to the gooed of the British rulers, some people like .. created the National Congress and Hume was a key figure. Many suspect that from the run, INC was infiltrated by people to safeguard British Interests. It continued tils the early 1900s with a ‘begging’ policy. Then arrived the revolutionary political movement in Bengal, Punjab and other parts of India. Still was in a way was not very well orchestrated. The so0-called satyagrah movement may have awakened people but eventually it failed to achieve the goals such as ‘ourna swaraj’ or the full freedom.
There was no major movement in India after the Quit India movement of 1942 which was abruptly withdrawn almost unilaterally by Gandhiji. Then within 5 years, India got dominion status in 1947. India got its constitution in 1950 by shaking off the satellite nation status of the British Commonwealth. August 15 1947, was a very sad day for this ancient nation. Ancient India, the greater Bharat, lost Afghanistan, Sindh, and Baluchistan in the past. But on that fateful day, Bharat lost its western and eastern parts to Pakistan. Millions were displaced, and thousands were butchered, raped, and killed. This happened due to the rush to get the independence of the Congress leaders such as Nehru and having proper planning to implement the partition.
However, if we look back now at what brought India’s freedom, we can today clearly see it is not the movement of INC. First of all, due to WWII, Britain was almost bankrupt, though much of the resources came from India, including wealth and military personnel. But the most significant impact was of the Indian National Army of Netaji, which though not succeeding directly on the battlefield, causing a rebellion in the British navy first in 1946, followed by army and airforce rebellions. These gave a very clear signal to the British, as found from their personal diaries and correspondence today, that they realized they could not keep India under their rule anymore because the Indian military personnel, who took orders from their imperial superiors, were not going to happen anymore and hence they could not control the country anymore. In this, the role of Netaji and Hindu Mahasabha leaders, including Veer Savarkar and Rashbehari Bose, has been erased from the history books.
Frontlist: Why should one read this book?
Kanchan: The history of a family, society, and civilization is very important in the sense that one can build a better future if only one has knowledge of the past. History empowers us, and gives us direction for future.
It was Rabindranath Tagore who said:
‘There are some who are exclusively modern, who believe that the past is the bankrupt time, leaving no assets for us, but only a legacy of debts. They refuse to believe that the army which is marching forward to believe that the army which is marching forward can be fed from the rear. It is well to remind such persons that the great ages of renaissance in history were those when man suddenly discovered the seeds of thought in the granary of the past.
‘The unfortunate people who have lost the harvest of their past have lost their present age. They have missed their seed for cultivation, and go begging for their bare livelihood. We must not imagine that we are one of these disinherited peoples of the world. The time has come for us to break open the treasure-trove of our ancestors, and use it for our commerce of life. Let us, with its help, make our future our own, and not continue our existence as the eternal rag-pickers in other people's dustbins.’
And of course, as American poet Maya Angelou wrote: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived; but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
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