I chanced upon this thread; the answers are pretty nice- but I found myself disagreeing with some people likeand (Pumpkin, eh? Pumpkin?) about how our ‘prejudice’ was colouring the way we look at the British…
I’m an Oriya.
We are a peaceful, tolerant, creative people who’ve long been known for our architecture, our arts, our temples, our monastries, our food, our trade networks and especially our good-hearted people. We are one of the oldest continuously surviving civilizations on this planet- mentioned in secular Haryanka records from 7th Century BC as well as Iron Age copies of the Mahabharata. Our modern capital- Bhubaneswar (City of the Goddess Bhubaneswari) is built a mere few miles from Udaygiri (Hill of Dawn), the Capital of India when the Mahameghavanas ruled the Indian Subcontinent.
We are few in number but have always been brave & enterprising travellers & businessmen- even now, you’ll find Indonesian towns & Cambodian people with Oriya names.
400 years ago, we were having a pretty bad time fending off the Mughals, the Nizam & especially the Marathas. They were pretty bad times with a lot of humiliations to our Emperor, the Gajapati- but all in all, it was standard fare for 18th Century India. We had suffered under the Mauryas (3rd Century BC), the Guptas (6th Century AD), the Muslim Sultanate (13th Century AD), the Mughals (17th Century AD)- we’d have endured anything the Marathas threw at us.
Then the British came.
They attacked an Orissa weakened by external War on three sides, civil strife & plague. Even so, they cowardly attacked Orissa from the sea at a time when the Gajapati was busy fighting the Marathas deep in Central India. We ended up surrendering- but that’s all right. We’d have endured- just like we endured under Magadha & the Cholas.
Of course, we knew nothing of what those savages had planned…
The British conspired to displace Oriya feudal lords. They replaced the Oriya zamindars in the Coast- the economic centre of the Oriya peoples- with modern Civil servants. They- well, you might call me a crank now- especially if you’re a Westerner or one of those new-fangled Liberal Indians. ‘Prejudice’, indeed.
Okay, I won’t talk about the Famines or the Wars or the razed Cities (some fo them 2000 years old) or all the dead Oriyas (millions at the very least).
Let’s instead talk about this:-
Impressive, isn’t it?
Here’s what it actually looked like back then:-
The present rump you’ll see in Konark, the pictures I’ve just posted- everything- it’s nothing but the tiny building you’ll see at the right!
Konark was ten times the size of the present ruins; with priceless art & architecture & sculpture, the crowning jewel of the Golden Age of Medieval Orissa- with marble brought in from Rajasthan, Lapis-lauzi from the mines of Afghanistan, timber from the forests of Indonesia- all destroyed, burnt, desecrated by the miserable, thieving, conniving British!
They sacked the temple for days, & when the armies from Western Orissa finally broke through their siege lines, those miserable creatures had the gall to use the Natyamandaka (Dance Pavilion; the central structure in that restored pic) as a goddamned ammunition store! As expected, the thing blew up- six centuries of art & culture gone in a flash because some moron from a London slum was too thick to keep a lantern away from gunpowder!
That sack of stones you see in the foreground of third picture of modern-day Konark I’ve posted? Those blithering idiots tried to dig anti-sapper tunnels under the Temple of the Planets (white structure in the foreground of the restored pic)! Those fools! Those miserable accursed fools! No Oriya would’ve ever tunnelled under the Konark! It was the Second Temple of the Oriyas- built in defiance of the destruction of the Marthand Sun temple in Kashmir, built in Glory as Oriya armies reduced invading Muslim and Chola armies to dust, built in Celebration as Oriya navies ruled unopposed from Vietnam to Sri Lanka!
That was the pride of our Race, the greatest Sun temple built in the history of Aryanism! All gone because a pack of thieving jackals couldn’t stay in their own country!
And when we finally broke through- by reducing the Great Walls of the Sky to dust, Walls that had stood for Centuries, Walls covered with some of the greatest carvings ever made by Man- what did we find? Our generals wept- they wept like children each time our cannons spewed fire into the Great Walls. Our Gajapati cried every time our mortars fired into the Konark. Our armies, shattered with grief, as we desperately tore at the very Heart of our Culture in order to save it from Foreign barbarians…
And what did we find when we broke through?
The main idol of the Konark was a huge circular iron statue of the Sun- kept floating in mid-air through the use of six enormous magnets embedded in the walls of the Deulla (Abode of God; the tallest structure in the restored pic). Of course, some of you might complain that there was no way that permanent magnets could’ve lasted for centuries- but they did. And if they’d lasted for a mere one more century, maybe we could’ve done something to make them last longer. It was the Second Temple of Orissa. We would’ve tried something; we had to.
But we’ll never know now, shall we?
Those British vandals- they’d desecrated the Holy of Holies. Then they tried to get the idol down; those godless accursed maniacs. They failed- we were the finest architects of Medieval Asia; look at our temples, look at our cities! So, you know what they did? They tore out the magnets on the walls! Those subhuman barbarians! The most ignorant of Turkish goatherds & Mongol swine-farmers have behaved better!
Of course, the Deulla didn’t last! It collapsed within weeks- weakened by the removal of the massive multi-ton magnets, by repeated artillery fire, by the removal of our GOD from the Holy of Holies! The idol- our God- the Heart of the greatest Sun temple built by the Indo-European peoples, the Hall of a God worshipped in the heart of Rome & Pataliputra, of Athens & Luxor, the last Glory of a God first worshipped when Egypt & China didn’t even exist! The first God of Humanity, the True God of Humanity- Almighty Sun, giver of Life! All gone because some uneducated scum from East London wanted a few extra pence!
I can weep. Rabindranath Tagore had wept- when he first saw the ruins of Konark, a century after the desecration. ‘Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man’- he wrote in the Gitanjali.
One temple. One State. One People. Just one.
There are over a thousand still standing in Bhubaneswar alone. How much more did we lose? How much more have we lost? Reparations? Equality? What can replace Konark? What can replace anything?
You Liberals want Prejudice? We’ll impale you & your precious ‘prejudice’- exactly as was rightly done to traitors in the days of the old Gajapatis- on the tips of our Nuclear Warheads & hang you over the silos in Rajasthan. Maybe one day, you can tell your British overlords in person how much you love them.