INDIA. New Delhi. Manoshi Sinha Rawal is a woman of many talents and is wrestling with protagonists while rewriting Indian history. She is one of the leading writers who is redefining Indian history in its original context. She believes that it is high time that the people know their history as it happened, not as it was written. Manoshi has a view that a nation rises only when it becomes aware of its historic past. Her recent book Saffron Swords is now a bestseller in India and she tells stories that were never told before.
Early childhood and learning Indian culture
She is the eldest daughter of six siblings. Her father was from Baromani village in the district of Silchar in Assam. He was well versed in Vedas and the stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Manoshi learned patriotic stories from her father, who used to chant hymns from Bhagwat Gita. Sadly, he fell from a mountain and was bedridden for five years when she was still quite young. The investments her father had made for their family soon vanished. Three of Manoshi´s sisters were already studying at the English Medium School, which was a costly affair. Relatives suggested the family move their girls to a cheaper school, but Manoshi´s mother was adamant her daughters receive the best education.
Her mother soon opened a small tea stall and with her tireless zeal, developed it into a restaurant within six months. To support her mother, Manoshi began to take tuition classes for young students. Her mother was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and the same connection resonated with her daughter. While talking with Transcontinental Times, Manoshi expressed her passion, “Love for my nation, culture, and my devotion toward Krishna was due to my mother. Later I wrote two books on Krishna.”
First-hand experiences on Indian heritage and writing books
After graduating from Dibrugarh University, she opted for a masters in English literature from Pune University, Maharashtra. It was from 1998 – 2000 when she first experienced historic places like the Raja Shivaji forts, Ajanta caves, and Ellora caves.
After seeing the sculptures and paintings of the ancient and medieval periods, she realized the inadequacies of how existing textbooks portrayed India´s history. Manoshi explained, ”What my father narrated about Indian history, I never found those in textbooks. My father told me when you grow up you will know the reason.”
The beauty of Indian heritage, in juxtaposition with the general apathy most historians have expressed toward it, planted the seeds that would bloom into her writing career.
Manoshi began writing books when she was just 13 years old. Her first manuscript was a collection of short stories which she never published. However, her first published work was the romantic novel Made for Each Other in 2002. In 2005 she wrote the book Stigma of Womanhood about the menace of widowhood among Bishnupriya Manipuri women. She told the stories of widowed women who had to shave their heads and became outcasts in society. Today, this practice has been abolished.
Her next two books were about Lord Krishna. She portrayed the Yugpurush Krishna and dispelled misunderstandings surrounding the diety. “We need his warriorhood and wisdom in mind and spirit for the present generation,” Manoshi said.
The writing of Saffron Swords
Her husband, Yogaditya Singh Rawal, is also a history lover. The couple has been visiting historical places for the last 11 years and has done much research on medieval and ancient history. “We met historians, and we listened to folklores and ballads. In this way we come to know many historical facts which were hidden,” Manoshi explained.
“Oral transmission of valours and sacrifices has saved the old heritage and culture of India,” she added. Manoshi also dispelled the myth surrounding sati (self-immolation). When she visited the site at Eran in Madhyapradesh, she came across one sati- stambh (pillar). ”There is an inscription which tells us that sati was by choice not by force. Sati was done to prevent herself from utter disgrace at the hands of barbaric Islamic invaders. So sati was not as prevalent as many people think in Hinduism,” she explained.
There are many similar cultural details, including other inscriptions, from different parts of India that are never mentioned by traditional historians. This evidence, with many other medieval books, have given her the necessary impetus to write Saffron Swords. “ The horrendous atrocities of Islamic invaders were never mentioned in our history books. These books glorify the invaders and give scant respect to the martyrs and heroes of India,” Manoshi said.
She wrote about the warriors who fought against Islamic invaders, and also the British, in 52 chapters. The book is getting an excellent response throughout India and also internationally. Agastya Ashram Gurukul has adopted Manoshi´s book as a textbook in her workshop curriculum. She has developed a website for historical writing at myindiamyglory.com where more than 70 authors are contributing.
Manoshi is one of the few authors who dare to write Indian history in its true context and her efforts are being rewarded with an awesome response. More people are becoming aware of their ancestorial warriors and the sacrifices they made. “I will continue to write so that people know the real Indian history,” Manoshi imparted.