AN INTERPRETATION AND A HISTORY OF
THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT
Muslim Rule in India not Foreign. Yet it is not right to say that the Muslim rule in India was a "foreign rule." The Muslim invaders were no doubt foreign in their origin, just as the Normans and Danes were when they came to England, but as soon as they settled in India, adopted the country, made it their home, married and raised children there, they became the sons of the soil. Akbar and Aurangzeb were as much Indians as are to-day the Moguls and Pathans in Delhi or elsewhere. Sher Shah and Ibrahim Lodi were no more foreigners in India than were the descendants of William the Conqueror or the successors of William of Orange in Great Britain. When Timur and Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India, they attacked a kingdom which was ruled by Indian Muslims. They were as much the enemies of the Mohammedan rulers of India as of the Hindus.
The Muslims, who exercised political sovereignty in India from the thirteenth up to the middle of the nineteenth century a. d., were Indians by birth, Indians by marriage, and Indians by death. They were born in India, they married there, there they died, and there they were buried. Every penny of the revenues they raised in India was spent in India. Their army was wholly Indian. They allowed new families from beyond the borders of Hindustan to come and settle in India, but they very rarely, if at all, employed people who were not willing to stay in India for good and to make it their home. Their bias, if any, against the Hindus was religious, not political. The converts to Islam were sometimes treated even with greater consideration than the original Muslims. Akbar, of course, did away with that distinction, but even the most bigoted and the most orthodox Mohammedan ruler of India was not possessed of that kind of social pride and social exclusiveness which distinguishes the British ruler of India to-day. If the racial question ever came into prominence during Mohammedan supremacy in India, it was not between Hindus and Mohammedans, but between Mohammedans and Mohammedans, as for instance between Tuglaks and Pathans, or between Moguls and Lodis.
In the reign of rulers like Sher Shah, Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah Jahan, the Hindus were eligible for the highest offices under the crown next after the princes of royal blood. They were governors of provinces, generals of armies, and rulers of districts and divisions. In short, the distinctions between the Hindus and Muslims were neither political nor social. Looked at from the political and the economic point of view, the Government was as much indigenous as under Hindu rule. The Muslims never attempted to disarm the population; nor did they prohibit the manufacture or import of arms. They did not recruit their servants from Arabia, or Persia, or Afghanistan. They had no Lancashire industries to protect, and were under no necessity of imposing excise duties on Indian-made goods. They brought their own language and literature with them. For a time, perhaps, they transacted all government business through that language, but eventually they evolved a language which is as much Indian as any other vernacular spoken in India to-day. The groundwork of this language, which is now called Urdu or Hindustani, is purely Indian. The Muslim rulers of India had no anxiety for, and were in no way concerned with, the prosperity of the labouring classes of Persia or Afghanistan. If any one sought their patronage, he had to come to and settle in India. So their government was an Indian government and not a foreign government.
History does not record a single instance of India being ruled from without, by a people of purely non-Indian blood and in the interests of another country and another people, before the British. India was always an empire by herself. She was never a part of another empire, much less a dependency. She had her own army, her own navy, her own flag. Her revenues were spent for her own benefit. She had her industries and manufactured the goods she consumed. Any one wanting the privilege of trading with India under special terms had to obtain the sanction of her government, as the East India Company did. There was no India Office in Arabia or in Persia or in Kabul, to which the people of India looked for initiative in the affairs of their native land.
INDIA UNDER THE BRITISH
India under the British is, however, entirely different. For the first time in history she becomes a part of another empire. India to-day is not an empire by herself, but a part of the British Empire, as Britain once was a part of the Roman Empire. For the first time in history she has been reduced to the position of a dependency. For the first time in her history she is ruled from the outside. For the first time the Indians have been reduced to the tar hordes to acts of rapacity or tyranny, there was time enough, even in the short life of man, to bring round the ill effects of the abuse of power upon the power itself. If hoards were made by violence and tyranny, they were still domestic hoards, and domestic profusion, or the rapine of a more powerful and prodigal hand, restored them to the people. With many disorders and with few political checks upon power, nature had still fair play, the sources of acquisition were not dried up, and therefore the trade, the manufactures, and the commerce of the country flourished. Even avarice and usury itself operated both for the preservation and the employment of national wealth. The husbandman and manufacturer paid heavy interest, but then they augmented the fund from whence they were again to borrow. Their resources were dearly bought, but they were sure, and the general stock of the community grew by the general effect.