ICHR controversy (Reply to Mr. Dougal: Part 2)

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 6 00:23:07 UTC 2000


I do not have the 1977 book used by Mr. Shourie (and reprinted 9 times till
1997), but possess the revised and enlarged edition from 1998. All
references will be from this book.

On Kalidasa, Dr. D. N. Jha says:
pg. 172: "The main component of the so called Hindu renaissance therefore is
the writings of Kalidasa, the composition of some Puranas...... But the work
of Kalidasa is not indicative of an intellectual rebirth or revival of
literary activity; it merely implies a development of the literary forms and
styles which were evolving in an earlier period."

Then, Dr. D N Jha goes on to make similar remarks about the Puranas,
Shaivism/Vaishnavism amd concludes:
"The much publicized Hindu renaissance was, in reality, not a renaissance,
much less a Hindu one".
On page 173 he adds: "True, the upper classes were happy and prosperous, and
lived in comfort and ease, but this could hardly have been true of the lower
And all this, after stating  that "The poems of Kalidas remain unequalled in
their metrical and verbal excellence" (ibid.,Pg. 170)as Dr. V Jha's booklet
points out.

The whole discussion starts with a 'class conflict' in mind ("The paintings
at Ajanta relect the lifestyle of the rich only" --paraphrase) and ends in
the same vein (as evident from the quote from pg 173) and it is this
tendency that colors Dr. D N Jha's notions of Indian history and makes him
'balance' the perspective of those times.
Shourie does not deny that D N Jha admits the greatness of Kalidasa etc.
(see page 174 of Eminent Historians), but laments that all this is drowned
in his socialist biases (pg. 175-177 of EH).

In contrast, Shourie quotes the Russians like Levin etc. as saying that
"Without severing from earlier traditions, Kalidasa stood out as an
innovator in many respects.....This explains why his work has been so
accessible to the minds and the hearts of the people of India for so many
centuries" (Pg. 191-192 of EH).
This extract clearly implies that in the views of Russian historians, the
work of Kalidasa was not as elitist as D N Jha would like us to believe,
just to deprive the Hindus of their notions of a golden age.

The causes of divergence of D N Jha (and others of his category) from the
Russian communist historians is dealt with by Shourie in pages 193-196 of EH
and must be read in totality before castigating Mr. Shourie. After all, did
not the NCERT guidelines for history writing state: "Glorification of the
ancient period is not allowed".
The book of R S Sharma is missing from the shelves of the local library here
and so I cannot comment. But the tendency to downrate the 'Gupta Age' can be
seen in the works of Dr. D. D. Kosambi too.
Let me know what you think of the review of EH by
1. Indiastar.com at http://www.indiastar.com/wallia19.html
2. India Today at http://india-today/itoday/07121998/books.html
The latter makes very comical reading.

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