Solstice at Panipat


Reading the book “Solstice at Panipat” made me reflect upon the fact about how history takes a bird’s eye view of one’s lifetime. And how most of how details of the events that shape up are lost either in the humongous amount of din or in the lack of.

A veritable time machine, the book by Dr Uday S Kulkarni threw open doors to the not so distant past, hitherto little known to me. Probably I’m not the only one whose knowledge of the Marathas (and India) is so less. History in school was so dry.

It is my firm belief that, history or any story for that matter cannot be clearly described only in black and white, but always in shades of grey. The book too reinforces this belief.

It was a revelation of sorts to learn that the Marathas were responsible for the security of the Mughal empire. As was learning about the impervious relations between the Rajputs and the Marathas.

Malhar Rao Holkar and Najib Khan seem to be the key nobles of the time who made a difference. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if Malhar Rao Holkar would not have protected Najib Khan. Probably Abdali wouldn’t have come to India, and the Marathas would have established much more control over the whole of North India. And this might have helped blocking the English from gaining a foot hold and later extending their presence in the whole of India.

Another salient point that could be gleaned is the fact that most of India was under constant turmoil during the same time European countries were experiencing relative calm in their mainland. This probably explains the lack of industrial advancement in India as compared to Europe and America though we were quite advanced in fields like architecture, medicine, etc.

The amount of research that has gone into writing the book, contrasts with the abysmal level of analysis and general lack of application by other well known contemporary historians.

The only criticism that I can think of is that in the midst of the narration, references are made asynchronously which made it difficult to follow. But then, just explaining things chronologically would have made it yet another high school textbook.

The book and the author are an inspiration for students of Indian history. And a must buy and read. (The author himself has published it. Hence, the recommendation to buy and support)

I also posted this on Good Reads –