In Indian history we have numerous instances not nearly of literary but also of epigraphically records which have all been tampered with. The attempt to find out the genuineness or otherwise records has become a piece of research. The Mercara copper plates that give the clue to the Ganga Dynasty of Karnataka were all found to be spurious. When human nature is such that despite the strict control of the government counterfeit currency is not unheard of with document which were very old, when advantages to be drawn by tampering with them there are numerous, when the possibility of detections was merge and when forgery was easy, there must have been a widespread tendency to tamper with historical records.
Historical records are tampered with not only for some material advantage but also for variety of other reasons. Pride ,vanity sympathy, antipathy, personal rivalry, political differences, social distinctions, religious disputes or patriotic favour could induce certain individuals to distort original records.in such cases two question to be asked is who could carry out the forgery and why? Sometimes documents have been fake to be sold for gain. A scholar might faker document to provide a missing link in sequence of event he had imaginatively reconstructed. Such a possibility is rare today.
Obviously, the next question is how to detect forgery. Paleography help us in this field particularly for ancient Indian history which is reconstructed mostly with the help of lithic and copper plate records. The characters of writing have changed from time to time. If in a forged epigraph the alphabet do not confirm to the type prevalent at the point of time to which it allege belong to We suspect some foul play. Likewise the handwriting spelling dictation style and other characteristics features to through a hint as to whether tampering has taken place or not. Even the information content in the record mainbetray its spurious nature.
In recent years textual criticism has been raised to a very high level of refinement and there are scholars who devote their entire time and life to external criticism. Their main job is the restoration of text in investigation or authorship fixation of chronology, collections classification and verification of documents and hence they help historians enormously in providing well authenticated document. Their job is called critical scholarship.
Critical scholarship is a part of external criticism. In the 19th century it became very popular in Europe, because this task was most scientific. It did not involve writing of history but merely textual criticism to eliminate all possible chances of forgery. Consequently, few people did not regard this work has very meritorious for it did not involve any exposition or interpretation. It was mechanical to some extent as was the application of certain principles and technique almost to evolve kind of text finding out the authenticity and editing the text with elaborate notes. This kind of work did not find favor with those who were real historians with an interest in interpreting the past.
If the building material is defective the building will collapse. Moreover if the architect is also to cut stones in a quarry for burn bricks in a kiln the building would never be completed. Likewise, the critical scholar who has too much of importance and declares that critical scholarship has raised history to the dignity of science that its external criticism is the whole of historical criticism, and that outside purgation’s, emendation and classification there is nothing else to do in history is also not correct. This is a very tall claim which is hardly justifiable and undoubtedly and exaggerations it is psychological criticism and not textual that deals with interpretation of the facts and also the good faith and accuracy of authors in a way external criticism is preparatory, however is essential it may be. Therefore, external criticism is means and not an end by itself. It is a temporary necessity and not a permanent feature of historical writing.