New book challenges ‘traditional’ Indian history and highlights stories of 15 unsung heroes



New Delhi: Exploring the lives, times and works of fifteen unsung heroes, half of whom were women, a new book challenges Delhi’s focus on history and shines a light on the contribution of the warriors who broke on the battlefield, fighting for a greater cause.

Vikram Sampath’s ‘Bravehearts of Bharat: Vignettes from Indian History’ opens a window into the stories of selected men and women who valiantly fought the invaders for their rights, faith and freedom. Published by Penguin India, the book will be released on October 31 on Softcover, ThePrint’s online site for launching non-fiction books.

The book tells the stories of courage and determination of a few individuals, whose stories remained largely untold and therefore unknown for a long time. These braves include Rajarshi Bhagyachandra Jai ​​Singh from Manipur, Lalitaditya Muktapida from Kashmir, Chand Bibi from Ahmednagar and Lachit Barphukan from Assam.

The list also has names like Begum Hazrat Mahal from Awadh, Rani Abbakka Chowta from Ullal and Martanda Varma from Travancore and Banda Singh Bahadur. Members of royal families like Rani Rudrama Devi from Warangal and Rani Naiki Devi from Gujarat are also among those who fought to maintain the tradition and culture of their land.

Sampath’s latest book is an attempt to reshape Indian historiography and visualize a more holistic and inclusive method of writing about the country’s history. “The very foundation on which historical writing rests is a legacy that promoted European and Western ethnocentrism, in which the narratives of the subjugated, whether in India, Asia, Africa or Latin America, would hardly find a place. clean voice.” he writes.

Sampath questions the way Indian historiography is written and taught and advocates for a more inclusive narrative. “Popular historical accounts of ‘regional history’ labeling stories from different parts of India as ‘regional’ allude to the existence of a central and dominating theme and all that does not fall under this rubric is simply “regional”. It is not my argument to exclude anyone from the historical narrative of the country because we cannot wish on our past; coverage should be inclusive of all regions and commensurate with the importance and contribution of dynasties and individual rulers to the history of Bharat,” the author said.

The Sampath History Project aims to shed light on the stories of Indian women – stories of bravery and sacrifice that are otherwise subsumed by their male counterparts. He states, “Therefore, we know very little about the Mahadevis of Odisha of the Bhaumakara dynasty, Rani Didda of Kashmir, Rani Durgavati, Abbakka Ranis of Ullal, Rani Karnavati of Garhwal, Rani Mangammal of Madurai, Kittur Rani Chennamma, Chennamma of Keladi, Queen Maratha Tarabai, Devi Ahilyabai Holkar or the Begums of Bhopal, among many others.

“I chose the first. Fifteen different lives, from various parts of India and from various time periods, but united in the theme of courage, resistance and bravery against all odds that separated them. Notably, half of the number selected are women. In short, accounts of several dynasties that are rarely referred to in ‘mainstream’ history have also been incorporated into the narrative,” he said.

Read also : New book explores the history of the Pashtuns, the ethnic group ‘without a country of their own’

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