Keerthi’s view of history is flawed & incomplete. Here’s why!

Opinions sometimes based on incomplete and imperfect information are peddled as history by Keerthi.

Keerthi has been all over the social media lately. Her videos and shorts are watched by several thousand or few lakh people. Her videos are mostly about History of India and sometimes Hinduism. Most of the points made in these videos are quite in tune with the right wing narrative and some are outright problematic.

About Keerthi

Keerthi is a social media personality who is famous on Instagram and YouTube. Her YouTube page “Keerthi History” was started in August 2022 and has 60 videos but has a whopping 436,000 subscribers. Her Instagram page has over 230,000 followers which started in November 2022. Her videos have also become very popular and there is a fair chance that you might have seen some of them. Let’s see some of the points she has made which are either unscientific or problematic or not truthful.

Sushruta Statue in Australia

Sushruta is believed to be an ancient physician born in the Kingdom of Kashi in 6th or 7th century BC and he is also believed to have contributed to ‘Charaka Samhita’, the foundation book of Ayurveda, in addition to the ‘Sushruta Samhita’. The book Charaka Samhita or even the Ayurveda itself is considered pseudoscientific by the doctors following modern medicine.

Although The Royal Australia College of Surgeons (RACS) has a statue of Sushruta, it was donated by an Indian Doctor KM Cherian who is an alumnus of the college. The statue was donated to the college and the college had decided to keep it in its campus.

Sushruta Statue in Royal Australia College of Surgeons.

However, Keerthi portrays it to be a great achievement and an acknowledgment by a foreign education institute of the superiority of Ayurveda or the ancient Indian medicine. She also claimed that Sushruta performed several surgeries including plastic surgery in addition to claiming that the world considers Sushruta as the “Father of surgeries”, which is not something universally accepted, though in Indian context, he is considered to be one.

 

Moreover, a 40-feet statue of Sushruta was unveiled in Kochi in 2016 at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (AIMS), 2 years before it was unveiled in Australia.

Madhavan & the Mars Mission

In the same video where she argues that Indians have inferiortiy complex, Keerthi points out an incident related to Actor Madhavan. During a promotional event for his film “Rocketry”, Madhavan claimed that the Indian Mars mission followed the ancient ‘Panchangam’, a calendar based on some celestial bodies. This is not a science grade tool on which complex procedures such as launch of a Mars mission can be based. Hence, Madhavan received flak for his comments.

However, Keerthi comes in defense of Madhavan by claiming that ISRO’s former chief Mayilsamy Annadurai had said that the Panchangam is a must for rocket science, by using a paper cutting which we have already debunked. In a byte he gave to a Thanthi TV, he outrightly denied that using the panchangam that was calculated thousands of years ago, going to Mars would be of any use today and he termed it impossible.

 

Mayilsamy Annadurai went on to say that the almanac (Panchangam) that we use is modified regularly from all around the world. While explaining the astronomical almanac, he described it to be our (scienctists’) panchangam, may be for easy understanding, which is misunderstood and the misleading news paper article was written. Using that misleading article, Keerthi had set out to defend actor Madhavan who himself has realized his mistake and apologized on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ActorMadhavan/status/1540927062470295554

 

Raja Raja Chozhan

In another video, Keerthi was outraged because Arunmozhi Varman or the Rajaraja Chozhan who built the Thanjavur Peruvudaiyaar Temple, the Brihadeeswara Temple was not shown as a worshipper of Lord Shiva in a commercial movie, Ponniyin Selvan, which itself was based on a historical fiction novel of the same name written by Kalki Krishnamurthy in 1955.

Comically, Keerthi compares the movie ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ with another movie “Bahubali” to point out that the character ‘Bahubali’ was shown as a worshipper of Lord Shiva and exclaims that people of ‘those’ days were good devotees. It is interesting to note that Bahubali is a fictional film and has no historical relevance to any particular history or time period of history.

Towards the end of this video, she points out the comments made by legendary actor Kamal Haasan and national award-winning film maker Vetrimaran who said that the calling Rajaraja Chola as Hindu is inaccurate, as there was no such religion as Hinduism. During the times of Rajaraja, devotees of Shiva, Vishnu or other Gods were practically worshippers of different religions and they were called Shaivaites, Vaishnavaites etc. Only during the British times, worshippers of different Shaivaites, Vaishnavaites, and other sects were brought under one denomination “Hindus”. Hence, calling Rajaraja to be a shaivaite and not a Hindu is correct under historical terms. The Quint had written a detailed article regarding the same.

BBC Documentary

The BBC Documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi had rattled several BJP members and supporters. “India – The Modi Question” is a 2-part documentary produced by the BBC and released on their website, but it was not made available in India. Still, many found several ways to watch the documentary in India which the Government tried to unofficially ban. Although there is no ban on the said documentary per se, the Union Government sent several instructions to social media platforms and other companies to remove the links to the documentary. This was criticized to be an attack on freedom of expression and freedom of press. The Union Government retaliated by raiding the offices of BBC in Delhi and Mumbai.

 

Various student organisations and political parties organized screenings of the documentary all around the country and there were some incidents where the organisers of such screening were attacked by the BJP & Modi supporters. In the beginning of the video, Keerthi starts by asking what this documentary is trying to convey. The main message from the documentary is that Narendra Modi is accused of the violence in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister of the state, and he has followed it up by several violent & authoritarian decisions as the Prime Minister of the country which in many cases are against the biggest minority community in the country, Muslims.

Keerthi puts out a lot of conspiracy theories beginning with questioning Jack Straw credibility by citing a sting operation but the very image that she uses in her video is of the article from 2015 which reports about Jack Straw and Sir Malcom Rifkind being cleared of any wrongdoing. A parliamentary committee had found no wrongdoing in the said case.

Apart from this, she goes on about Jack Straw being a member of a non-profit organization called the 48 Group Club and the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being from the Conservative Party, which has been in power since May 2010. It was during the Conservative Party rule that Jack Straw was both accused and acquitted. But, somehow, Keerthi tries to weave this incomplete & inaccurate information into a story to claim that there was some ulterior motive.

Another question that Keerthi and BJP supporters put forth is, why after 20 years. A narrative is being set that the BBC documentary is based only on the Gujarat riots. Although the significant portion of the first episode talks about the Gujarat riots, the second part of the documentary talks about various issues after 2014 including the Delhi Riots of 2020. Somehow, these are never brought up for contention, but all the focus is given only to responding to the allegations made about the Gujarat Riots.

A still from Delhi Riots 2020.

The list of reasons that Keerthi gives for the BBC’s Documentary are as follows:

  • India surpassed UK to become the 5th biggest GDP.
  • BBC is owned by the British Monarch.
  • India is now heading the G20 Summit.

Keerthi alleges that these are the reasons for the documentary coming out now and the documentary she claims portrays India as unsafe country, however the documentary does not. It sure raises various questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the very title is that; India – The Modi Question.

Why these allegations are primitive?

These reasons are very novice at best. Having a bigger GDP definitely has its perks and importance, but what’s more important is the income equality and per capita GDP rather than the overall number. For instance, according to the World Bank, Luxembourg’s GDP per capita is $133,590 whereas India’s stand at $2,256. United Kingdom is almost 20 times bigger at $46,510. This comparison is not to belittle India’s ascent to being the 5th largest GDP in the world, but to point out that it is childish think that a developed country such as the United Kingdom would find India’s growth to be problematic and would indulge in producing a documentary about its Prime Minister, only to restrict it from open access in India. If UK or any other country decides to attack a country’s economy, they might do so in more elaborate, complexed and nuanced manner than produce a documentary.

Moreover, India’s G20 leadership position has come this year, quite later than the earlier planned timeframe of 2020 as India swapped its places twice (with Italy and Indonesia).

At the end of the video about BBC, Keerthi furiously asks the people who want to watch the documentary “Do you guys even realize what you are asking for?”. She says that the documentary is literally banned in India. First of all, it is not banned. A plea seeking to ban the documentary was dismissed by the Supreme Court and termed the plea “completely misconceived”. Second, wanting to watch a documentary is not a crime in any way even if it accuses a National Figurehead of violence and authoritarianism. Even if there was such a ban, citizens finding way to watch it should be considered as an act of civil disobedience to an authoritative, dictatorial regime and it should be celebrated as part of democracy and Freedom of Speech and Expression.

The only repetitive take away from Keerthi’s video on the BBC Documentary is that questioning & criticizing Narendra Modi is somehow anti-Indian, an opinion she shares with the BJP. She expects nobody should watch the documentary as it ‘shows India in bad light’, when all it does is question Narendra Modi’s authoritative mindset while highlighting several issues which the Muslims have been dealing with under his regime.

Conclusion

Most of the videos from Keerthi can be summarised in one-word, hypernationalism. A hyper-nationalistic view of the country and its leaders would only limit one’s mind to a more broad-based opinions and possibilities while heightening fears of outsiders/others as it needs some ethnic or regional or religious group to drum up its “us vs them” narrative. In such a country that is built on hyper nationalism, one would just grow up to be an insecure, hostile, narrow-minded & non trusting xenophobe. We deserve better. India deserves better.

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Ramasamy Jayaprakash

Ramasamy works as a Senior Sub-Editor at YouTurn and writes articles in Tamil and English. He also makes videos for YouTurn's Tamil & English YouTube channels.
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