ICHR controversy (Part 1 of reply to Mr. Dougal)
holden at GIASDL01.VSNL.NET.IN
Mon Mar 6 12:45:41 UTC 2000
Dear Mr. Agarwal,
I realise that my first message may
have misled you a bit because of its
heading for my point 1, viz.
"Kosambi's _Myth and Reality_".
I apologise. Let me clarify that I
had intended to show the errors
of Shourie's reading of this book.
Since that would've run into many
pages therefore I ended up taking
a relatively minor point up.
Every thing else stands. V.M.Jha's
remarks, far from being mischievous
are very pertinent.
Because the basic argument is that
for ancient Indian history Shourie has
R.S Sharma's Ancient India
D.N Jha's Ancient India, An Introductory Outline &
D.D Kosambi's Myth & Reality
His main accusation is that in the
name of writing history, these
historians made a series of 'assertions
& accusations' without any evidence.
The point that the Sahmat booklet tries
to make and makes very convincingly is
that he either happily ignores or is
ignorant of the "evidence" or context
provided and cited in the research works
these books are based on.
Very relevant in the context of the research
work on which quotations from D.N. Jha's
small introductory work is concerned. A
reference to his bibliography would readily
Then it proceeds to examine what Shourie
definitely seems to have at least consulted
and how he presents the material there.
Since Shourie picks up Kosambi's _Myth &
Reality_ for special criticism, it is
relevant to note the context & discussion
Kosambi provides for Lord Indra, Krishna,
And also, Mr. Agarwal's post with the
"ICHR controversy (Reply to Mr. Dougal
Part 3)" also refers to Kosambi's work.
It would be a drag but I would be glad to
provide the context and quotes in the
citations of my previous post too if
required or of other
In view of the foregoing it should be
obvious however that apart from the heading,
the criticism remains. To give the context
where even D.N.Jha refers to Indra thus,
here's a small excerpt (D.N. Jha, op cit:
Among the gods the most popular was Indra,
who shared some of the characteristics of
the Greek god Zeus. Always ready to smite
dragons and demons, he is credited with
the sacking of many cities. Rowdy and amoral,
Indra is described as fond of feasting and
drinking Soma, which was the name of a heady
drink of the Aryans as well as of the Vedic
god of plants. The largest number of hymns
in the Rig Veda is addressed to Indra.
In short, I was not 'taken for a ride'
nor did I intend to take anyone for
I leave the others to look up the rest of the
citations referred to by Mr. Agarwal. for
further edification. The one on phallic cults
has been dealt with below. For the one on Bhakti,
the correct page number, as given by Shourie is
(xviii) and not (xvii)
In short, I am happy to change the heading
of the aforesaid point to:
1. Lack of Evidence (or Amoral god)
I hope we now do not have any disagreements
2. My point 2. Kalidasa
I am sorry I did not provide the page numbers
mentioned in the Sahmat booklet for the
quote from the Soviet historians. It was an
omission, and not any intent to deceive or
take any one for a ride. The Sahmat booklet
does provide the correct Pg number in
Shourie's book, viz. p 191. Let me reproduce
it here as my last message was written in a
hurry: (Sahmat, p 6):
'The work of Kalidasa is referred to [by the
Soviet historians] as one of the pearls of
ancient Indian Literature', as 'an illustrious
page of history's world culture'...'Without
swerving from earlier traditions Kalidasa stood
out as an innovator in many respects', _the
Soviet historians write in contrast to our
eminences_ (op cit, Shourie, p 191, emphasis added)
This omission _by me_ of the pg number has
_no_ bearing on the argument, however.
To quote from pg 7 of Sahmat booklet:
And this is the sentence from Jha's book
with which Shourie has drawn the contrast:
'"But the words of Kalidasa", declares our
historian, "are not indicative of an
intellectual rebirth or revival of literary
activity; they merely imply a further
development of the literary forms and styles
which were evolving in the earlier period"'
(p. 175 citing from D.N. Jha op cit., p 114).
However the point that Jha makes here is one
against the idea of 'intellectual rebirth or
revival', which is what the the nationalist
historians imply when speaking of the Gupta
period as one of renaissance. The same point
is made by the Soviet historians in the
clause 'without swerving from the earlier
traditions' in the quoted passages. But does
the contrast lie Jha's remaining silent on
the greatness of Kalidasa? Shourie claims to
have discussed pages 112 to 115 from Jha's book
(p 176, n. 51), the criticised sentence being
from p. 114. This is what Jha states on
Kalidasa on the preceding page:
'The poems of Kalidasa remain unequaled in
their metrical and verbal perfection. His most
famous work, the play _Abhijnanashakuntalam_,
... remains the supreme achievement of early
Indian literature and stagecraft.' (Jha, op
cit, pg 113)
In addition to this bit quoted by the Sahmat booklet
it may be instructive to look at what else D.N.Jha
says about Kalidasa on the same page 113.
The basic point is about Shourie's selective
quotings and generalisations and not about the Gupta
period. The Sahmat booklet is not trying to hide
the fact about the broader issue of Gupta period.
That is a different debate all together.
3. 'The Extended Phallus'
On Pg 89-90 of Jha's book, the
reference to Shiva is:
Shiva mentioned by Megasthenes as
Dionysus, evolved from the Rigvedic
god Rudra and the Tamil god Murugan,
though his Tamil antecedents are
sometimes doubted. A number of
non-Aryan fertility cults, such as
those of the phallic emblem (lingam)
and the bull (nandi), merged with
the worship of Shiva. The earliest
evidence of the phallic cult goes
back to the Harappan period. It was
incorporated into Brahmanism around
the beginning of the Christian era,
and Shiva has been chiefly worshipped
in the form of a linga ever since.
But he was worshipped in human form
as well. One of the earliest
representations of Shiva in his human
form comes from the village Gudimallam
Let's see how Shourie presents this in
Pg 157 of his book:
Lord Shiva is just "a development of
phallic cults" (op cit Pg 90)...
...that even a foreigner - Stella
Kramrisch - should see such an
effulgence in the concept of Shiva
and this eminent historian just the
The old charge remains. You decide.
To repeat, quoting from the Sahmat
As the Sahmat booklet puts it:
"the onus on Shourie here is twofold;
he must both show where Jha has
written the alleged thing and admit
that he did not read or understand the
above quote from Jha's book.
Failing either he stands accused of
Since Mr. Agarwal has not yet responded
to pts 4 & 5, I'll refrain from adding
anything further for the time being.
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