In their search for Greatness our historians till now have identified only three Great rulers, viz Alexander, Asoka and Akbar. Alexander was considered great because he conquered the world at a young age; Asoka became Great became he became an apostle of peace after the bloody war at Kalinga. But what for Akbar?. Maybe he tried to create an integrated Hindu- Muslim society through his cocktail religion called Din-i-llahi. However now when our home minister says that Maharaja Ranapratab singh was also great, questions ponders my mind, on what makes a ruler so great. Is it war or its spoils?
Professional historians have told me that a king is considered great when he has made exemplary achievements including victories and displayed path breaking leadership initiatives benefiting humanity. Even if I accept this argument from the left leaning historians, my conclusion is that only Asoka fits into this slot because of his dedication to the cause of Buddhist Dhamma ( non-violence and righteousness) which eventually spread the religion of Buddhism in the Indian sub-continent . On the other hand the motive of Alexander and Akbar was mere strategic in nature. Akbar according to me had to display a ‘’ secular ‘’ mindset as a strategic reason to align the Rajput’s to his side.
While on the right side of the debate, is the new set of scholars from the Indian Council of Historic Research who after taking cues from the Home minister, is trying to portray the valor of Ranapratap Singh to be christened as Great. Well , then we have a list of warriors who showed remarkable valor and determination from the annuls of history. Maharashtrians will call for Sivaji the Great, Punjabis will say Maharaja Ranjitsingh the great and the humble Malayalee in me will shout Veluthambi Dalawa and Pazasi Raja the Great.
So why open up a Pandora’s box and historians taking positions and in the process becoming politicians . Because historians re Great…Sanyasi