Is it true there were no religious wars in pre-modern India?

By Sunil Kumar

Strictly speaking; there were religious tussles in pre-modern India. You should clarify pre-modern(in a time frame) as India is a country with a very long history.

Sculpture of the two Jain tirthankaras Rishabh...

Visit Sculpture of the two Jain tirthankaras Rishabha (left) and Mahavira (right). Photographed at the British Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However; unlike brutal Catholic inquisitions in Spain and Portugal; even against Jews who had converted themselves to Christianity(New Christians killed: source: The Ocean of Churn; Sanjeev Sanyal); India always has had freedom of thought; even though from a smug Euro-centric perspective; that may appear to be a fallacy.

Also read recently; that Vasco Da Gama; one of the first Europeans to set out east; burnt 380 Arabs alive on a ship off the coast of Kerala; just to loot them, plunder and pirate. Probably; the recent liberation of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors played a role. And this was after the ruler Samuri(Zamorin) had welcomed him in 1497. Just making a point on the tolerance of the local population.


Eliminating Cathars; or banning scientific or philosophical thought/exploration(Galileo, Spinoza etc) was never a problem in ancient India; as it operated on a framework of the overarching Dharma-Karma perspective; common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Despite this; Ashoka(3rd Century BCE); usually regarded as a noble Buddhist emperor is said to have persecuted Jains and Hindus for their religious beliefs; according to some historical sources.

But; largely unlike the dark dystopia of Europe( dark and middle ages); where people were burnt at the stake etc; branded witches etc; crucified, guillotined; none of these things happened in pre-modern India. Not to say; all of it was rosy; but it was still a unique syncretic tradition; which absorbed different ideas and also welcomed foreign ones.



English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...

Visit English: Religious symbols from the top nine organised faiths of the world according to Major world religions From left to right: 1st Row: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David, Hindu Aumkar 2nd Row: Islamic Star and crescent, Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, Shinto Torii 3rd Row: Sikh Khanda, Bahá’í star, Jain Ahimsa Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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