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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Remembering PN Oak: The original Hindutva historian

Does the name of Professor Oak rings a bell? The historian who used to make claims about Taj Mahal originally being a Hindu temple and similar other assertions about Qutub Minar and many other mosques.

That was the era when RSS didn't have historians, scientists, writers, journalists, doctors, academicians and other professionals in its fold. But Oak, was quite dedicated to his cause. He was mocked at, but he continued to publish his works, make such claims and write letters in newspapers.

Oak died sometime back. Not many tears were shed. Perhaps, because he had become irrelevant. Or may be, the Saffron brigade now had an army of able professionals to espouse its cause in every field, much more eloquently in TV cameras.

Still, one expected a few obituaries. Hardly any attention was paid to the demise of the original Hindutva Historian. The man who had founded the Institute for Writing Indian History, spent all his life, for the cause, especially in the era when Marxist historians dominated all institutions.

Ironicallly, the Indore-born Oak didn't get much attention in the era when such theories which were then considered wild are now heard quite attentively and are lapped up by the monster--live 24 hr news channels.

After all, Rupert Murdoch's Star News happily beams the stories about the evidence of existence of Ravana's air-craft repair centre in Sri Lanka, and mythology has gained more credence than science in our age, the era of the death of rationalism.

We have often heard that Saffronites dump the guys when they lose their utility. (Has anybody heard the name of 88 year old Balraj Madhok, the founder of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, for years and that he is still alive!).

I remember reading Oak's letters on the editorial pages of newspapers, sometimes with irritation and sometimes with an awe over his 'single-minded devotion to an almost lost cause in the early 80s".

Today RSS has no dearth of experts on any subject who can forcefully argue on any subject from astrology to zoology in accordance with Sangh's views. It pays these days to be on its side. In the era of PN Oak, it was neither lucrative nor glamorous, rather it invited trouble and the risk of getting branded as a 'crackpot' or Sangh historian unlike today (Professor KS Lal and a host of others).

Still, he was not missed much even among the rank and file of Sangh Parivar and media sympathetic to its cause. A website, Hindu Jagrati, did recall him as the lone fighter in an obit.
Purushottam Nagesh Oak was 90 and died just a couple of days before the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition.

But one does feel bad for him. He was one of his own kind. Not like the hate-preachers and vitriolic Togadias of today.


readerswords said...

Good work, Indscribe. Most of your posts are very original and I must commend you for that. Carry on!

indscribe said...

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. :)

Sana said...

This post says so much - not just about Oak, but also about the author. It takes long - often too long - for most of us to reach a point where we look upon the 'other' and feel compassion and even appreciation. It is difficult, being an 'out there' Muslim in India to come to terms with the 'human'ness of Hindutvavadis, but it is crucial to our understanding of what is happening to us. This post, to me, is an indicator of maturity - a much needed humanization of Hindutva, no matter where you stand politically.

Great job!

-Sana (A fellow Indian Muslim)

Zafer said...

It reminded me of another hindutvavadi, though not as prominent. He was our family doctor when I was a child. He served RSS for something like fifty years. But when more radical hindutva rised in 1989, he cant identify himself with them. They simply forced him to resign his post in the RSS.
He died in 1993. He was deeply disappointed with the whole Babri Masjid episode.

indscribe said...

Thanks Sana Sahiba for your comments.

And also, Zafar Sahab.

indian urdu media said...

Hindustan Express is the leading Urdu daily of North India having a large number of readership in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttaranchal. Now is in the third year of publication. In these years it has created a need for Indian Muslim to read this newspaper withers via print or on net. Its net edition is also very popular among those who give priority to read news on net rather than its hard copy. Its net edition is very popular among NRI because this is the only newspaper of India WHICH PRESENTS THE TRUE PICTURE OF EVERY STORY. It is the only newspaper which no any bent to any political party. That is it is every popular among the readers and is regarded as the only unbiased newspaper.Formerly the address of our website was www.hindustanexpressdaily.com. But due to some unavoidable circumstances we have change it as www.dailyhindustanexpress.com.
In this very limited period we have break many stories which given a chance to an Urdu reader that an Urdu newspaper too can break story. BBC Urdu website regularly gives the references of Hindustan Express it shows that in news selection Hindustan Express is number one. It design is according to need of the reader. It has been designed in that manner which gives a reader a easy way to search and read the news. Its front and last page design is very popular among the readers who not only like to read news but they also take interest in layout. Hindustan express is getting regular advertisements from DAVP and DIP. Because of its wide reach it is very popular among the advertisers.
Its weekly edition is also very popular. The weekly edition Qauso Qazah publishes the story about education, career, film and the other good things like nazm, Ghazal Afsana and the material for women and Children.

Kapil said...

WelL.... RSS was never and will never be weak.It works on ethics,unlike other Ethnic groups who are converting hindus or waging war in the name of Jihad.

I am not an anti indian muslim or Anti muslim.all i am trying to convey is that I am an indian and we should all respect our nationality than being "INDIAN MUSLIMS"

Nirvana said...


Stumbled upon your blog only today and loved what i happened to read.

Regarding this post of yours, i have read a bit of PN Oak and i must admit that some of his statements are wild and crackpottish. But specifically regarding his theory on the Taj Mahal and its origins, some of the points he made are worth a second thought. I have commented on it on my blog. Visit it, especially the first embedded link.


I will keep visiting your blog. Keep going.

Btw just fyr my background is Hindu

Warm Regards


Arunodit said...

I stumbled upon this site quite by accident while I was searching for some confirmatory material on the prevalence of Shaivitism (worship of Lord Shiva) in pre-Islamic Arabia. This was a topic close to my father`s heart, and he never ceased to condemn the political leaders who were instrumental in creating the Hindu-Muslim divide in the run-up to Independence. Prior to this we had all been coexisting peacefully, as we should.
Although some dismissively dub Mr. P. N. Oak as a "Hindutva" historian, the evidence cannot be ignored. There is a large body of research work by historians of all denominations which shows how much Hindusim and Islam share in common. So why the discord ?
Understanding our commonality should help to bring both communities closer.
- Arunodit ( a fellow Indian, Hindu)