And here, by "Pagan" I mean not just those who espouse the Wiccan Rede, or who endeavor to "reconstruct" the Heathen ways of pre-Christian Europe. I mean all those hundreds of millions of human beings in Africa, the Americas and throughout Asia who keep the old ways alive and who worship the Gods, Spirits, Ancestors, etc, who have been venerated since the dawn of humanity itself.
Anyhoo. Koenraad Elst has fought in these trenches as long as anyone currently drawing breath. So, if you are up for a little scholarly inside baseball, you really should read his most recent blog entry: A debate with an eminent historian.
Here are three excerpts to whet the intellectual appetite:
[I]t is not true that Aurangzeb [sixth Moghul Emperor, reigning from 1658 to 1707] was a cruel character, he was not more so than his less notorious predecessors. If he was cruel and fanatic, it was because he started taking the core doctrine of Islam to his heart. He was a pious person, more than is good for a ruler, so he became increasingly averse to the religious compromise on which his great-grandfather Akbar had built the Moghul empire. So at some point in his advancing years, not his personal predilection but his growing commitment to Islam took over. That is when he ordered all Pagan temples destroyed: when the Moghul empire became truly Islamic at last.
For lack of facts, Prof. Mukhia likes to throw names around instead. But a real historian remains unimpressed by this show of name-dropping. The fact that Prof. Mukhia has many like-minded colleagues in academe while his opponents have to remain on the outside is not the result of better competence among his friends, but of a deliberate policy in university nominations. Any young historian who lets on too early that he has pro-Hindu convictions, will see his entry into academe barred. Word will spread around that this man is “dangerous to India’s secular fabric” and he will be excluded. There have been some old historians who entered the profession before their cards were on the table and who only became forthright critics of Islam at the end of their careers, the likes of Prof. Harsh Narain and Prof. K.S. Lal, both since long deceased. Today among university historians, the school that sets the record on Islam straight is simply non-existent.
In several respects, Eaton’s count is incomplete [referring to RM Eaton's claim that only 80 Hindu temples were ever destroyed by Muslims]. Muslims destroyed Hindu temples before 1200 and after 1760 too, witness the near-absence of the once-numerous Hindu temples in Pakistan, witness the regular occurrence of temple destruction in Bangla Desh. It is also seriously false that for this period, Eaton’s count is complete. How could it be? Off-hand, Venkat could name a few cases from his own Tamil village, which was only briefly touched by the Islamic invasions but nonetheless already lost several temples, and they don’t figure in Eaton’s list. Archeologists regularly find remains of destroyed temples, often underneath mosques, which do not and cannot figure in Eaton’s list. Finally, one item on Eaton’s list doesn’t mean one temple destroyed. The thousand temples destroyed in Varanasi during Mohammed Ghori’s advances ca. 1194 form only one item on his list. What Mukhia calls “eighty” is in fact thousands of temple demolitions. So in spite of his Islam-friendly intentions, Eaton has only proven what Hindus have been saying all along: Islam has destroyed thousands of temples.