Member Login

You are not currently logged in.

» Register
» Lost your Password?
Article Archives


[This Monday’s Archive was written on July 21, 2006, while my son Jackson (then 14) were in India.  It is my “nutshell history” of India, apropos today with voting in national elections now underway.  India with 1.45 billion and growing has overtaken China with 1.4 billion and shrinking as the world’s most populous nation – while India is the world’s largest democracy and China the world’s largest tyranny.

Compare these population links: India is young and has time to get rich before it gets old, China is already old and dying.  India has a future, China doesn’t.  That’s why it’s important to understand India’s complex history of 4,500 years, summarized here.]


TTP, July 21, 2006

If I ask you to think of India, the image that most likely appears in your mind’s eye would be the Taj Mahal. Arguably the most famous building in the world and considered by many to be the most beautiful structure mankind has ever created, it was completed in 1648 by the ruler of India, Shah Jehan, to immortally entomb his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.


There is a painful problem with this image (in addition to that it was raining when I took it), however, for the great majority of folks in India: the Taj Mahal isn’t an Indian building. It’s Moslem, and thus for Indians a symbol of Islamic imperialism.

Note the inscription panel at the entrance. The inlays of black onyx in the marble are quotations from the Koran in Arabic calligraphy.


Shah Jehan was not Indian. He was the fifth in a succession of Moslem conquerors of India known as Moghuls who came from Central Asia.

The founding Moghul was a Moslem Turk, Zahiruddin Mohammad Babur, from the Fergana Valley in what is now Uzbekistan, who claimed descent from two genocidal mass-murderers, Tamerlane on his father’s side and Genghiz Khan on his mother’s. Babur’s claimed Mongol ancestry resulted in Indians calling him a “Moghul,” their pronunciation of Mongol.

Yet when Babur’s horde poured through the Khyber Pass to defeat the rulers of India at the Battle of Panipat in 1526, it was to displace a previous Moslem tyranny called the Delhi Sultanate.

The Moslem invasion of India had begun with Mahmud of Ghazni (now in present-day Afghanistan) in 1001. Historian Will Durant observes:

“The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.”

The Taj Mahal is in Agra, about 120 miles south of New Delhi – and it was on the road to Agra that I reflected on the extraordinary complexity of Indian history.

It begins, appropriately enough, along the banks of the river for which India is named, the Indus. By 2500 BC, irrigation systems and agriculture had developed for cities to emerge like Harappa and Mohenjo-daro (in modern-day southern Pakistan) with multi-story brick homes and large-scale public works. Over 2,000 “Harapan” cities have been unearthed.

The decline and disappearance of Harappan civilization coincides with successive waves of migration from Central Asia of Sanskrit-speaking Aryan nomads and herders starting around 1500 BC. Once settled, they developed their religion of Hinduism based on religious texts called Vedas, and a rigid social hierarchy of castes which justified total domination by the Bhramin priestly class.

No one Aryan-Hindu kingdom emerged, but a shifting group of Mahajanapadas (“great lands”) that struggled with each other for control of territory for a thousand years. Then came the epochal event of 537 BC, when a prince in northern India named Gautama Siddartha (563-483 BC) had a spiritual experience under a Bodhi tree and founded the religion of Buddhism.

The teachings of the “Buddha” swept through India as people embraced it to escape Hindu-Bhramin dictatorship.

Another hit for the Hindus came with the conquest of northern India by the Persian Empire starting in 520 BC. The Persians did not force their religion of Zoroastrianism upon the Indians, and protected the expansion of Buddhism from the Bhramins.

Persian rule of India lasted for less than 200 years when King Puru was defeated at the Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern Jhelum in Pakistan) in 326 BC by Alexander the Great.

Alexander’s empire was divided upon his death in 323 BC by his three principal generals. Seleucus (358-281 BC) got all of the Persian empire. Macedonian Greeks under Seleucus proceeded to found a series of kingdoms in Central Asia and India, creating a fascinating culture of Greco-Buddhism, a merger of Classical Greek culture with Mahayana Buddhism that lasted for centuries.

The most powerful of these Indo-Greek kingdoms was that of Greco-Bactria in today’s northern Afghanistan. It formed an alliance with the greatest Indian ruler of the age, Ashoka (304-232 BC).

Asholka’s grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, had founded the Maurya Empire in 321 BC which for the first time united all of India. Inheriting the empire in 273 BC, Ashoka expanded it into Afghanistan, Persia, and Central Asia.

Converting to Buddhism, Ashoka issued the Edicts of Ashoka, India’s oldest historical documents, which spread the ideals of Buddhism throughout all of East and South Asia including China. They were inscribed on what are known as the Ashoka Rocks (shown here with my son Jackson) at Manserha in present-day Pakistan.


To this day, India reveres him as Ashoka The Great, the most renowned king in Indian history.

Ashoka died in 232 BC and his successors could not keep the Maurya empire together. The king of Greco-Bactria, Demetrius Aniketos (“the Invincible”, r. 200-180 BC) invaded India in 190 BC and established a Hellenistic Greek kingdom stretching from eastern Persia to the Ganges River in eastern India.

Greek rule of northern India lasted for almost 200 years. Then came a series of invasions by swarms of nomads out of the Asian central heartland like the Scythians and the Kushans.

Finally in the 300’s (AD), the first Hindu empire arose, the Gupta, unifying India and spreading Hindu culture. It lasted about 200 years, which the Hindus ever since have called India’s Golden Age.

The came another barbarian horde sweeping in from the north, the White Huns, wiping the Guptas out, precipitating an Indian Dark Ages lasting over 400 years and leaving India vulnerable to the disaster of Islam that began in 1001AD.

For seven and a-half centuries, Hindu India was oppressed, looted, and pillaged by Moslem foreign invaders.

From Mahmud of Ghazni who killed 50,000 Hindu inhabitants of Somnath in one October day in 1026 and demolished its famous temple, to Firoz Shah who paid bounties on 180,000 severed Hindu heads…

From Sultan Ahmad Shah who held a celebratory feast whenever his Moslem soldiers killed a minimum of 20,000 defenseless Hindus in a single day, to Shah Jehangir (Shah Jehan’s father) who delighted in seeing Hindus flayed alive and torn apart by elephants…

From Aurangzeb (Shah Jehan’s son) who destroyed thousands of Hindu temples throughout India and taxed Hindus who refused to convert to Islam into poverty, to the Turcoman chieftain Nadir Shah who sacked Delhi and massacred its citizens in 1739 — Moslem Crusaders waged a relentless Jihad against the ancient Hindu (and Buddhist) civilization of India.

India’s Islamic Nightmare finally came to an end on June 23, 1757, when British forces led by Robert Clive defeated the army of Siraj-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, in the Battle of Plassey. The famous battle was the death knell of Moslem rule and the birth of the British Raj, which allowed Hindu India to rise out of the Islamic ashes.

Thus it is with both pride and anguish that Hindu Indians look upon the Taj — designed by Hindu engineers and constructed by Hindu artisans, yet built by a man who murdered his own brothers to seize his father’s throne, and ordered the ruthless and wholesale destruction of countless Hindu shrines.

British India survived until 1947, when the independence movement led by Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948) since the 1920s succeeded – so well that it split apart into Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan (we’ll discuss Pakistan next week).

A Hindu fanatic assassinated Ghandi for allowing this split, and an insufferably arrogant Bhramin socialist named Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) aligned independent India with the Soviet Union and ran the economy straight into the ground.

The shock of one’s first sight of Indian poverty stays with you. Mine took place in 1963 in Calcutta. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, children, and families lived, slept, and performed every human function on the city streets, alleys, and gutters.

I have been to India several times since, always wondering when if and when it could shake off Nehru socialism and have the courage to embrace free market prosperity.

One man did have that courage, Monanda Singh (b. 1932), who became Finance Minster in 1991 and began the transformation of India’s economy.

Today, Singh is Prime Minister of India, and the transformation has enormously accelerated. A huge Indian middle class is being created, and cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad world centers of information technology.

And yet…

Here I am on the road to Agra and it still looks the same. The mud, the dust, the filthy little tin shack stores, everything looks the dented and dilapidated same as it did ten years ago, or twenty, or thirty. And I wonder – does India have time?

Yes, more wealth, much more wealth is being created and more people, many more people are becoming prosperous. But there are a billion people in India, and hundreds and hundreds of millions of them are still stuck deeply in squalor. For lots of them, the sight of growing prosperity infuriates, rather than inspires, them.

That’s why a violent reaction is occurring throughout India, paralleling the move to the free market – an envy-fueled movement of Marxist terrorist guerrillas called Naxalites.

These guys are Maoist Communists like in Nepal, and just as brutal. They run parallel governments in nine Indian states, and are entrenched among rural people comprising some 35% of India’s population.

According to a former director of Indian Intelligence, Ajit K. Doval, fully half of India will be “Naxal-affected” by 2010.

And that’s just the violent reaction. India is an actual democracy, and the easiest path to elected power for a politician is to pander to envy. Can Manmohan Singh provide enough economic freedom to create enough widespread wealth before the redistributionists gain the power to steal it?

Another, deeper dynamic is also in play. The economist Joseph Schumpeter was famous for describing capitalism as a process of “creative destruction.” While that’s an accurate depiction of the power of the Hindu god Shiva, what the capitalism unleashed by Manmohan Singh will be most socially and creatively destructive of is the caste system.

In a free market economy, it’s productive competence that counts, not your caste. Yet Hinduism as a social culture exists as a rationale for a hierarchy of castes with the Bhramins on top.

This means that for India to truly prosper, Hinduism must be re-invented, re-configured without a caste system.

In the meantime, you have rabid resentment for economic freedom from the top and the bottom of Indian society. Can the middle grow fast enough until it is too big to be squeezed and swallowed in between?

I certainly hope so and I want it to be so. But wishing won’t make it so. I drive down the road to Agra and what I see bothers me. Then I think of Manmohan Singh and of the fact that the Indian people did have the courage to freely elect and follow him as their leader.

May India continue to have that courage.