P. N. Oak
|Purushottam Nagesh Oak|
2 March 1917|
Indore, British India
|Died||4 December 2007
|Occupation||soldier and writer|
|Known for||historical revisionism|
Purushottam Nagesh Oak (2 March 1917 – 4 December 2007), commonly referred to as P. N. Oak, was an Indian writer, notable for his Hindu-centric brand of historical revisionism. Oak's "Institute for Rewriting Indian History" issued a quarterly periodical called Itihas Patrika in the 1980s.
Oak's claims, e.g. that Christianity and Islam are both derivatives of Hinduism, or that Vatican City, Kaaba, Westminster Abbey and the Taj Mahal were once Hindu temples to Shiva, and their reception in Indian popular culture have been noted by observers of contemporary Indian society. In addition to this Oak again asserted that the Vatican was allegedly originally a Vedic creation called Vatika and that the Papacy was also originally a Vedic Priesthood. He wrote books in three languages.
Oak was born in 1917 at Indore in erstwhile Princely State of Indore, British India. During World War II, he was at first with the army of the British Raj in British Malaya. He joined the Indian National Army after Singapore fell to the Japanese. He acted as an assistant to Subhas Chandra Bose in the Indian National Army and then as an ADC to General J. R. Bhonsle, chief of the Indian National Army. He also worked as a commentator for the Azad Hind Radio.
"From 1947 to 1974 his profession has been mainly journalism having worked on the editorial staffs of the Hindustan Times and The Statesman, as a Class I officer in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India; and as editor in the American Embassy's Information Service." In 1964, he started an organisation called 'Institute for Rewriting Indian History'
Dozens of blogs and websites refer to him as "Professor" P. N. Oak,. However, he was not a professor. According to his own account, he completed an M.A. (Agra) and a law degree (LL.B. Mumbai), and was an official in the Ministry for Information, and wrote various journalistic pieces.
He died on 4 December 2007, at 3.30 am at his Pune residence aged 90.
Intent on rectifying what he believes to be "biased and distorted versions of India's history produced by the invaders and colonizers", Oak has written several books and articles on Indian history and founded an "Institute for Rewriting Indian History" in 1964. According to Oak, modern secular and Marxist historians have fabricated "idealized versions" of India's past and drained it of its "Vedic context and content". Srinivas Aravamudan noted that Oak's work typically resorts to "deep punning" – associating Sanskrit sound-alikes with non-Sanskrit religious terms such as Vatican=vatika "hermitage", Christianity=Krishna-netti or Chrisn-nity "ethics of Krishna or the way of Krishna" Islam=ishalayam "temple of God", Abraham as an aberration of Brahma, and George as an aberration of Garg.  Based on this, Oak claims that both Christianity and Islam allegedly originated as distortions of "Vedic" beliefs. Srinivas Aravamudan concludes that via "deep punning" Oak is "creative in proliferating these delusional etymologies."
Academic and government response
Oak finds some mention in passing as trustworthy in academic literature on the Hindutva wing of Hindu nationalism. Aravamudan (2005) calls him a "mythistorian" whose life's work may be summarised by the title of his work World Vedic Heritage: A History of Histories, Presenting a Unique Unified Field Theory of History that from the Beginning of Time the World Practised Vedic and Spoke Sanskrit. Edwin Bryant writes that most academics would consider him a 'crackpot'.[page needed] Giles Tillotson describes his work as a "startling piece of pseudo-scholarship".
While Oak's theories have been summarily rejected in academia, they have found a popular following among some members of India's Hindutvas, (N. Ram, editor of The Hindu, calls him a "Sangh historian"), Indocentrists and the Hare Krishnas mainly but not only represented by author Stephen Knapp. Art historian Rebecca Brown describes Oak's books as "revisionist history as subtle as Captain Russell's smirk" (referring to a character in the Hindi movie Lagaan).
Although not anti-government in nature, Oak's book "Some Blunders in Indian Historical Research" was banned from the Parliament's library by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha (lower House) as noted in news archives. There are also apocryphal claims of government suppression, e.g. "Allegedly, Indira Gandhi's government tried to ban [Oak's book on Taj Mahal] and some would say the Indian government has been politically motivated in suppressing this theory". The Indian government has indeed banned a number of books on the grounds of preventing Hindu-Muslim rioting and/or national security.
Christianity as Vedic Chrisn-nity or Krishna-neeti Theory
Oak claims that Christianity was originally a Vedic religion following Krishna and claims that Christianity was originally known by either the names Chrisn-nity or Krishna-neeti (with Oak alleging these meant "The way of Krishna" or "The Justice of Lord Krishna") these generally follow in line with Oak's other theories and claims that the Vatican was allegedly originally called Vatika and that the Papacy was originally a "Vedic Priesthood" until Constantine the Great around 312 A.D killed the "Vedic pontiff" and installed in his place a representative of the tiny Christian sect. Specifically, Oak's followers make the following claims about what they claim as alleged Krishna-neeti. "Jesus went to India between ages 13 and 30 to learn Krishna-neeti (Christianity) from sages."
Taj Mahal Theory
In his book Taj Mahal: The True Story, Oak claims that the Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva temple and a Rajput palace named Tejo Mahalaya seized by Shah Jahan and adopted as a tomb. He says that Mahal is a word to describe a royal palace and not a tomb and after seizure by Shah Jahan, the name was changed to Taj Mahal.
The Taj, Oak says, is a "typical illustration of how all historic buildings and townships from Kashmir to Cape Comorin though of Hindu origin have been ascribed to this or that Muslim ruler or courtier". He goes on to propose Hindu origins for the tombs of Humayun, Akbar and I'timād-ud-Daulah and "all historic buildings" in India as well as Vatican City, the Kaaba and Stonehenge.
Oak says that well-known western authorities on architecture including Ernest Binfield Havell, Mrs. Kenoyer and William Wilson Hunter have written that the Taj Mahal is built in the Hindu temple style, asserting that Havel says the plan of the ancient Hindu temple of Java, the Prambanan, is identical with that of the Taj Mahal. Also, he argues out that the octagonal shape of the Taj Mahal has a special Hindu significance, because Hindus alone have special names for the eight directions and the celestial guards assigned to them. He argues that the finial of the Taj Mahal is a trishula with a Kalasha, holding two bent mango leaves and a coconut, which is a sacred Hindu motif.
Oak claims that Hindu ornaments and symbols were effaced from the Taj, whose sealed chambers hold the remnants, including a lingam, of the original temple, and that Mumtaz Mahal was not buried at her cenotaph.
In support of these claims, Oak presents radiocarbon dating results of the wood from the riverside doorway of the Taj, quotes from European travellers' accounts and the Taj's Hindu architectural features. Oak further alleges that eyewitness accounts of the Taj Mahal's construction as well as Shah Jahan's construction orders and voluminous financial records are elaborate frauds meant to hide its Hindu origin.
Oak petitioned the Indian parliament demanding that the Taj be declared a Hindu monument and that cenotaphs and sealed apartments be opened to determine whether lingams or other remains were hidden in them. According to Oak, the government of India's refusal to allow him unfettered access amounts to a conspiracy against Hinduism. The Indian government has maintained that out of respect for the dead, unnecessary openings of cenotaphs and sealed rooms cannot be allowed.
Oak's denial of Islamic architecture in India has been described as one of the "more extreme manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiment" in Maharashtrian popular culture. K. N. Panikkar locates Oak's work in the Hindutva movement's attempt to foster a communal understanding of Indian history. Tapan Raychaudhuri has referred to him as "a 'historian' much respected by the Sangh Parivar."
In 2000 India's Supreme Court dismissed Oak's petition to declare that a Hindu king had built the Taj Mahal and reprimanded him for bringing the action, saying he had a "bee in his bonnet" about the Taj. In 2005 a similar petition was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court. This case was brought by Amar Nath Mishra, a social worker and preacher who says that the Taj Mahal was built by the Hindu King Parmar Dev in 1196.
Kaaba Theory: Vedic origins
In a 13-page pamphlet titled Was Kaaba a Hindu Temple?, Oak derives a claim of a "Vedic past of Arabia" based on an inscription mentioning the legendary Indian king Vikramāditya that Oak claims was found inside a dish inside the Kaaba. According to Oak, the text of the alleged inscription is taken from an anthology of poetry entitled Sayar-ul-Okul, compiled in 1742 on the orders of a "Sultan Salim" (the actual Sultan at the time being Mahmud I), and first edited in 1864 in Berlin. Oak goes on to state that the anthology is kept in the "Makhtab-e-Sultania Library" in Istanbul, Turkey. No one else outside of Oak is known to have mentioned either the alleged inscription or the Ottoman book Oak claims was written in 1742 CE.
- Taj Mahal: The True Story — Publisher: A Ghosh (May 1989) Language: English
- Some Missing Chapters of World History – Publisher: Hindi Sahitya Sadan (2010) Language: English
- World Vedic Heritage: A History of Histories – Publisher: New Delhi: Hindi Sahitya Sadan (2003)
- Vaidik Vishva Rashtra Ka Itihas – Publisher: New Delhi: Hindi Sahitya Sadan
- Bharat Mein Muslim Sultan
- Who Says Akbar was Great
- Some Blunders Of Indian Historical Research
- Agra red Fort is a Hindu Building
- Learning Vedic Astrology
- Christianity is Chrisn-nity, ISBN 978-81-88388-77-6
- Islamic Havoc in India (A. Ghosh Publisher, 5740 W. Little York, Houston, Texas, 77091)
- The Taj Mahal Is a Temple Place (Alternate title, The Taj Mahal is a Hindu Palace), Hindi Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi (online version: hindusarise.com)
- Who Says Akbar Was Great? (Hindi Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi)
- Agra Red Fort is a Hindu Building (Hindi Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi)
- Some Blunders of Indian Historical Research (Hindi Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi)
- Some Missing Chapters of World History (Hindi Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi)
- World Vedic Heritage—A History of Histories (Hindi Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi)
- Taj Mahal — The True Story (ISBN 0-9611614-4-2)
- Vaidik Vishva Rashtra Ka Itihas – Publisher: New Delhi: Hindi Sahitya Sadan
- Bharat Mein Muslim Sultan
- Was Kaaba a Hindu Temple?
- Learning Vedic Astrology
Some of his books are available at archive.org.
- P. N. Oak. Christianity is Chrisn-nity. http://books.google.com/books/about/Christianity_is_Chrisn_nity.html?id=DQYKAQAAIAAJ.
- Rediff On The NeT: Mahatma, Subhas Chandra Bose were fond of each other. Rediff.com (24 February 1946).
- P. N. Oak. "About The Author Prof P.N.Oak 19/20".
- "The Real Story of Tajmahal". blog. 22 November 2005. Retrieved 2 September 2007.As of 2 September 2007, Googling with the quoted string "Professor P. N. Oak" (with quotes) finds 328 webpages.
- "The Taj Mahal and the Controversy Surrounding Its Origins". h2g2 (BBC). 8 February 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2007.This website, a BBC Blog (h2g2) page that can be created by any user, is often erroneously referred to as BBC's having accepted the Oak claims. See the sulekha.com and garysellers citations.
- Gary (29 March 2005). "Taj Mahal – Not made by Shahajahan!!! BBC". The Indian.
- Srinivas Aravamudan, Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language Princeton University Press (2005), ISBN 0-691-11828-0, p. 36.
- P. N. Oak (2003). Some missing chapters of world history. Hindi Sahitya Sadan. p. 15.
- Srinivas Aravamudan (1998). Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language. Princeton University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-81-7510-072-5.
- Edwin Bryant (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. p. 4.
- Peter Parker (13 September 2008). "Review: Taj Mahal by Giles Tillotson". The Daily Telegraph.
- Akbar S. Ahmed (May 1993). "The Taj Mahal". History Today, vol. 43.
The Taj has recently entered a controversy which reflects the politics of modern India. Hindu fundamentalists, wishing to deny any positive role of Muslims in India, argue that it was not built by Shah Jahan. They claim Hindu rulers in the fourth century built it. Books with titles such as Taj Mahal Was a Rajput Palace (P.N. Oak, 1965; online version) further argue this position. There is no merit in the argument, but it has acquired something of a popular following in India.
- "HRD Ministry – its master's voice". The Hindu. 29 April 2001.
- Rebecca Brown (2004). "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India". Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 34 (1): 78–80. doi:10.1353/flm.2004.0008.
- Rajeev Dhavan. "Thinning not the answer to PN Oak Speaker's powers". Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- The Taj Mahal, an Historical Perspective, web page by Envocare UK. Envocare.co.uk.
- Famous Books Banned in India, The Daily Beast. Thedailybeast.com (14 February 1989).
- VNN Editorial – Cities And Regions Since. Vnn.org (4 June 1999).
- "Book Review: New Birth or Rebirth – Jesus Talks with Krishna (Great Conversations) by Ravi Zacharias".
- P. N. Oak. "The Tajmahal is Tejomahalay—A Hindu Temple". Dharma Universe.
- Oak, P.N. (4 June 1999). "Cities And Regions Since". Vaishnava News Network.
- Carl W. Ernst, Annemarie Schimmel (1992). Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center. State University of New York Press. p. 36.
- K. N. Pannikar. "OUTSIDER AS ENEMY: POLITICS OF REWRTING HISTORY IN INDIA (address to the Stanford India Association)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 January 2006.
- Tapan Raychaudhuri (2000). "Shadows of the Swastika: Historical Perspectives on the Politics of Hindu Communalism". Modern Asian Studies 34 (02): 259–279. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00003310.
- PTI (14 July 2000). "Plea on Taj history dismissed". The Tribune.
- [dead link]
- Muslim Digest, July to Oct. 1986 pages 23–24; Purushottam Nagesh Oak, Indian Kshatriyas Once Ruled from Bali to Baltic & Korea to Kaba (1966)
- Ganga Ram Garg (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 978-81-7022-375-7.
- Ram Gopal (1998). Islam, Hindutva, and Congress quest. Reliance Pub. House. ISBN 978-81-7510-072-5.