Restoring the cultural past of Hyderabad–Karnataka Region

The HKR region had been the centre of social reforms and religious tolerance as people had the freedom to profess and preach their faith without any interference from the state. But what is hurting is inadequate attempt to look critically at the debate around this rich repository of cultural past in the recent academic gatherings.

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The discipline of history has been experiencing a rapid overhaul with the emergence of new sources for researchers. In last couple of decades, researchers have been able enhance toehold in historical investigation pertaining to diverse facets of history, art, literature and culture. There have been many new archaeological and historical findings answering beyond the existing paradigms by opening new avenues for a wider, systematic and scientific understanding of social and cultural dynamics of many regions.

The history of Hyderabad Karnataka Region (HKR), ruled by the Nizams of Hyderabad until 1948, is not an exception. The Hyderabad-Karnataka/Northeast Karnataka region comprising Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Gulbarga (now Kalaburgi) of Hyderabad state and Bellary of Madras in the present state of Karnataka too has been significantly enriched by new research and findings.

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In HKR the evidence of human habitation is as old as any other region in the world and emerged as a culturally rich and diverse centre. Occupied by early hominids from 1.2 million years ago, as reported at Isampur in Yadgir district, cultural and subsistence economies had constantly emerged during the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Megalithic and Iron Age. This was further revealed through archaeological excavations and scientific explorations.

The early written history of HKR begins with the Asokan rock edicts dating back to 3rd century BCE and later with the emergence of Satavahana as early as 1st century BCE to 1st century CE. For instance, Maski, in Raichur district, was the first edict of Asoka that contained the name Asoka while in the earlier edicts he has been referred as Devanampiyepiyadasi. At Kanaganahlli, near Sannati in Kalaburgi district, a sculpture of Emperor Asoka with inscription ‘Raya Asoka’ in Brahmi script is unique and only one of its kind.

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The region also emerged as the centre of social reforms and religious tolerance as people had the freedom to profess and preach their faith without any interference from the state. Along with the oldest religions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, Sikhism and Islam too existed and flourished side by side. Moreover, Bhakti and Sufi saints made their presence felt and immensely influenced the overall cultural discourses in many ways.

What is hurting is inadequate attempt to look critically at the debate around this rich repository of cultural past in the recent academic gatherings. Because of the richness of cultural diversity and tolerance, people of all faiths in the region prospered without any religious hostility. In time of terrifying religious intolerance and hatred, teachings of the Bhakti-Sufi saints of HKR region may prove a path breaking endeavor in preserving the rich traditions of cultural co-existence.

Hundreds of secular and religious monuments, built under internal and external influence, in the region enriched the architectural styles and brilliantly added the splendour. The local influence and synthesis of Indo-Persian architectural styles are easily found in the form of big dome, minarets, and forts with moats. The architectural remains of secular and religious buildings of early medieval and medieval period add another crown in the grandeurs of rich historical past of the region.

Mauryans, Satavahanas, Chalukyas of Badami, Chalukyas of Kalyani, Rashtrakutas, Southern Kalachuri, Bahmani, Vijaynagar, and Nizams, ruled the region one after the others, immensely contributed in the development of cultural opulence of the region. Kannada, Telagu, Marathi, and Deccani Urdu thrived without any religious bias. Mitakshara, one of the earliest books on law of inheritance in Hindu society, was written by Vijanaeshwara in 12th century at Marthur in Kalaburgi. Kavirajamarga, the earliest book on poetics, rhetoric and grammar was also written during Rashtrakutta’s reign. Basavanna, a great reformer, spoke vehemently against the caste discrimination, superstitions and social evils. Through his classic Vachanaas, preserved at Basavakalayana in Bider, Basavanna spread the message of love, compassion and humanity. Khwaza Banda Nawaz Gesu Daraz, a revered sufi saint of Chisti order, spread the message of peaceful co-existence. The saint also wrote one of the earliest books, Mirajul Asheqeen, in Deccani Urdu to communicate with larger masses.

Historian EH Carr says that history is a study of progression. Unfortunately, there is an agenda to rewrite history and poison the young minds with unfounded historical facts. Sadly, some academics and scholars are helping out the people in power in writing regressive history.

Way ahead

There are reports of violation of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010. According to a recent report, Kalaburgi alone have 12 historical monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) while another 89 under the State Archaeology Department in Karnataka. Besides, historical sites such as pre-historic remains in Rajankollar and Vibhuthihalli in Yadgir district; Buddhist sites in Kangnahalli and Sannathi; Chalukya remains of Basavakalyana are some of important cultural and heritage sites. “Malkhed, the capital of Rashtrakutas, Gulbarga, the capital of Bahamani Sultans and ASI protected Sannati site are top hotspot for tourist attraction. The region’s historical importance is further established by the visits of a number of foreign scholars for their research works.

Preserving and providing a sense of identity, conservation of heritage sites is very important for future generations. What is needed is to keep our heritage protected irrespective of the period they belong to. Moreover, there should be rigorous efforts to inculcating among the young people and tourists a wider sense of awareness about history, art, culture, and heritage through the year. These events would be very important as means of outreach and education for the youths and tourists.

 

Dr Mohammad Nazrul Bari is associated with Department of History, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Central University of Karnataka, Kalaburagi.

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Restoring the cultural past of Hyderabad–Karnataka Region
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Restoring the cultural past of Hyderabad–Karnataka Region
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The HKR region had been the centre of social reforms and religious tolerance as people had the freedom to profess and preach their faith without any interference from the state. But what is hurting is inadequate attempt to look critically at the debate around this rich repository of cultural past in the recent academic gatherings.
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THE POLICY TIMES
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