P. N. Oak
|Purushottam Neagesh Oak|
2 March 1917|
Indore, Indore State, British India
4 December 2007 (aged 90)|
|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, journalist and Indian National Army freedom fighter, notable for his Hindu-centric 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. History books written by him have inspired several court cases to correct the history based on his theories.
Oak was born in 1917 at Indore in the erstwhile Princely State of Indore, British India. According to his own account, he completed an M.A. (Agra) and a law degree (LL.B. Mumbai), was an official in the Ministry for Information, and wrote various journalistic pieces. Dozens of blogs and websites refer to him as "Professor" P. N. Oak. Before joining the army, he had also worked as an English tutor at Fergusson College in Pune.
Later he joined the army and was posted in Singapore. During World War II, he was at first with the army of the British Raj in British Malaya at the age of 24. 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 Gazetted officer in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India; and as editor in the Embassy of the United States' Information Service." In 1964, he founded an organisation called Institute for Rewriting Indian History.
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 wrote 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 in his work on Indo-Aryan theory says "The various scholars whose work I have examined here are a disparate group. They range from brilliant intellectuals like Aurobindo, to professional scholars like B. B. Lal, to what most academics would consider “crackpots,” like P. N. Oak. 1 The primary feature they share is that they have taken it upon themselves to oppose the theory of Aryan invasions and migrations—hence the label Indigenous Aryanism." Giles Tillotson describes Oak's work as a "startling piece of pseudo-scholarship".
While Oak's theories have been rejected by some, they have found a popular following among others, specially 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 other 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".
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 argues that may be this temple was built by Indian King Jai Singh I. 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 by saying he had a "bee in his bonnet" about the Taj. Till date, as of 2017, several court cases about Taj Mahal being a Hindu temple have been inspired by Oak's theory. In August 2017, Archaeological Survey of India stated there was no evidence to suggest the monument ever housed a temple.
Giles Tillotson calls Oak's claims as a "desperate bid to assign a new meaning to the Taj" and "pseudo-scholarship". He states that Oak interprets the statements of Padshahnama about Shah Jahan's purchase of the land for the Taj from Jai Singh I upon where a mansion built by an ancestor of the Raja earlier existed, to claim that Taj Mahal was a wonder of ancient Hinduism. Tillotoson adds that no evidence is offered by Oak to redate it to thirteen centuries earlier. He adds that the technical know-how to construct structural buildings didn't exist in pre-Mughal India, the only surviving architecture being rock-cut or monolithic. He points that Oak later dropped this claim and claimed it to be from 12th century. He adds that Oak claims Mughals built nothing and only converted Hindu buildings. In relation to similarity with buildings of West Asia, Oak also claims them all to be "products of Hindu architecture".
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 the page 315 of an anthology of poetry entitled Sayar-ul-Okul (Se’-arul Oqul meaning the memorable words), compiled in 1742 on the orders of a "Sultan Salim" (the actual Sultan at the time being Mahmud I, sultan Selim III lived from 1761 to 1808) from the earlier work of prophet Muhammed's uncle Amr ibn Hishām (poetic name "Abu al-Ḥakam" or ابوالحكم meaning the "Father of wisdom") who had refused to convert to Islam, and, first modern version published in 1864 in Berlin and a subsequent edition was published in Beirut in 1932. Oak goes on to state that the anthology is kept in the "Makhtab-e-Sultania Library" (Galatasaray Mekteb-i Sultani or Galatasaray Imperial School) in Istanbul in Turkey, which is now also known as Galatasaray Lisesi school.
- 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
- 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". Archived from the original on 19 January 2007.
- P. N. Oak. Christianity is Chrisn-nity.
- Siraj Qureshi, "Another court petition challenges Taj Mahal's story as a symbol of love", India Today, 12 August 2017.
- "Is Taj Mahal a mausoleum or a Shiva temple? CIC asks govt to clarify", Hindustan Times, 10 August 2017.
- "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". Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- The Taj Mahal, an Historical Perspective, web page by Envocare UK. Envocare.co.uk.
- VNN Editorial – Cities And Regions Since Archived 18 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. 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. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012.
- 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.
- BJP's Vinay Katiyar now calls Taj Mahal a Hindu temple - a 'bee in bonnet' theory that Supreme Court once rejected India Today
- Giles Tillotson (2008). Taj Mahal. Harvard University Press. pp. 112–114.
- Muslim Digest, July to Oct. 1986 pages 23–24; Purushottam Nagesh Oak, Indian Kshatriyas Once Ruled from Bali to Baltic & Korea to Kaba (1966)
- "Hindu Vishva", Volume 27, Issues 4-11, pp. 16.
- Rabbi Simon Altaf, 2011, World War III - Unmasking the End-Times Beast: Unmasking End Time Beast, African-Israel International Union of Israelite Qahalim, ISBN 1599160528.