History does not repeat itself, let alone redoing it. Past is past. Neither can it be undone nor redone but at least we can redo the way we look at it. An open mind opens new vistas and new frontiers and discovers new angles to look at things. Our knowledge is neither absolute nor complete. The knowledge of our past is not like learning facts of science. A mathematically proved formula leads to a particular conclusion in science. But the same does not apply to life. As Bertrand Russell said, “What we know is science, what we don’t is philosophy”.
Learning history is a reflection of the life of a society and there are numerous perspectives, numerous aspects of life and of the past. We normally see history as we are shown. Every man is not a historian to find out things for oneself, or even examine everything one is told. Nevertheless, one cannot be forced to believe everything one is told just because they are told by eminent historians or at least by persons who know more than we know.
If I am not a historian and am not doing research in history it does not disqualify me in at least having my own point of view regarding what I have learned as an inquisitive person if not even as an academic student of history. Above it like any student, I have at least my reservations and feelings regarding what I am being taught.
Once we start asking questions in our lessons new things come up which are at times revealing. But astounding are those things that mostly do not come up. Is history all about one rule after another? Is history about one conquest after another? Isn’t there anything apart from the Sultans, the Mughals, and the British in our history? Empires are built and empires are destroyed, and are those all to it? Is our nationalism all about British India handing over power to the political party that proved instrumental in getting India’s independence?
Is our life all about just having a composite culture? By the way which culture isn’t?
All these questions are taking the good night’s sleep away from the doped way of reading and writing history hitherto. A change of guard at the helm of affairs in India is refreshing our memories. History is rising from its long slumber and is shaking off the dust that had gathered in all these years…