Richard Eaton

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Richard Eaton is an Indologist and historian focusing on the social and cultural history of medieval India, on historical interactions between Iran and India, and on Islam in South Asia.

He is often quoted (selectively) by negationists for his claim that only a small number of temples were destroyed by Muslim invaders during the Islamic invasions of India.

This claim made by (often selectively) quoting Eaton has been refuted by Koenraad Elst[1], Sita Ram Goel, Vishal Agarwal[2] and others.


  • "Only eighty, is how the secularist history-rewriters render it, but Eaton makes no claim that his list is exhaustive. Moreover, eighty isn't always eighty. Thus, in his list, we find mentioned as one instance: "1094: Benares, Ghurid army."[3] Did the Ghurid army work one instance of temple destruction? Eaton provides his source, and there we read that in Benares, the Ghurid royal army "destroyed nearly one thousand temples, and raised mosques on their foundations."[4] This way, practically every one of the instances cited by Eaton must be read as actually ten, or a hundred, or as in this case even a thousand temples destroyed. Even Eaton's non-exhaustive list, presented as part of "the kind of responsible and constructive discussion that this controversial topic so badly needs", yields the same thousands of temple destructions ascribed to the Islamic rulers in most relevant pre-1989 histories of Islam and in pro-Hindu publications."[1]
  • It is also instructive to see for oneself what Eaton's purported "eighty" cases are, on pp.128-132 of his book. These turn out not to concern individual places of worship, but campaigns of destruction affecting whole cities with numerous temples at once. Among the items on Eaton's list, we find "Delhi" under Md. Ghori's onslaught, 1193, or "Benares" under the Ghurid conquest, 1194, and again under Aurangzeb's temple-destruction campaign, 1669. On each of these "three" occasions, literally hundreds of temples were sacked. In the case of Delhi, we all know how the single Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque replaced 27 temples, incorporating their rubble.[5]
  • For Prof. Eaton’s information, it may be recalled that an extreme and willful superficiality regarding all matters religious is a key premise of Nehruvian secularism. While such an anti-scholarly attitude may be understandable in the case of political activists parachuted into academic positions in Delhi, there is no decent reason why an American scholar working in the relative quiet of Tucson, Arizona, should play their game.[1]
  • According to the cover text on his book, Eaton is professor of History at the University of Arizona and “a leading historian of Islam”. Had he defended the thesis that iconoclasm is rooted in Islam itself, he would have done justice to the evidence from Islamic sources, yet he would have found it very hard to get published by Oxford University Press or reach the status of leading Islam scholar that he now enjoys. One can easily become an acclaimed scholar of Hinduism by lambasting and vilifying that religion, but Islam is somehow more demanding of respect.[1]
  • Doniger gives the reference of a paper by Richard Eaton,[3] who makes it clear that the Kashmiri Sultan Shihab‐ud‐Din is being referred to here. However, Eaton too has not considered all the sources while reproducing the translation of Jonaraja’s Rajatarangini verses 434‐436 from an old edition, which refer to an evil minister named Udayashri of Shihab‐ud‐Din as the source of this suggestion. A recent edition of this text[6] states that all Persian histories describe this Udayashri as a Muslim. In fact, Muslim chronicles such as Baharistan Shahi (1586‐1614 A. D.) Haidar Malik's Tariki Kashmir (1618 A. D.), Peer Hassan's Tarikhi Kashmir (1885 A. D. actually describe this ruler as an iconoclast. Therefore, nothing much can be read in Jonaraja’s account which is contradicted by many others. In other accounts, Udayashri was the brother of the Kashmir king’s Hindu wife Lakshmi and therefore both may indeed have converted to Islam. In any case, this is an exceptional case and cannot balance the hundreds of Muslim Ulemas and Sufis exhorting Muslim rulers to smash Hindu temples, collect the Jizya, kidnap Hindu women, convert Hindus and humiliate them in other ways.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Richard Eaton's negation of Islamic Fanaticism". Retrieved 2021-06-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Vishal Agarwal - A Critique of Wendy Doniger The Hindus: An Alternative History". Retrieved 2021-06-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 EATON, RICHARD M. (2000). "TEMPLE DESECRATION AND INDO-MUSLIM STATES". Journal of Islamic Studies. 11 (3): 283–319. ISSN 0955-2340.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Elliot, H. M. Dowson, John (2020-09-23). The History of India: Volume II. BoD – Books on Demand. ISBN 978-3-7525-0659-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "5. Vandalism sanctified by scripture". Retrieved 2021-06-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Raghunath Singh (1972), Jonarajakrta Rajatarangini, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Series (Varanasi), p. 265 (fn)

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