October 23, 2006

Talking to a Doyen

It is more profitable to listen to a doyen than to read a book. It may be a sweeping statement. It is used here to start a talk.

When you read a book, it may take four to five days. After you complete a reading, you just receive a scratch on your mind. You receive an impression about the subject matter on which a book is written. However, you take more than forty to fifty hours to complete a book. The final result is that you develop a scanty idea about a concept or theme. If you like to keep the book or buy a personal copy, mostly it is because there is good bank of data on an event, a personality or a trend.

When you talk to a doyen, you learn more than you can learn from a book. The doyen delivers to you a refined content and final verdict. He gives more than what you can learn from a reading of a book.

I talked to Prof. J. K. Sharma, an expert on Buddhism and Ancient History with Panjab University, Chandigarh. It was a general talk. However, even during the talk, I learnt more than I could have learnt by reading three to four books. We talked on a telephone for merely 29 minutes. There was lost of personal talks. Even then, I am left with more learning than what I could have done by reading a book for 29 hours. Let me share it with rest of the world.

D. D. Kosambi is considered as a leading historian of India and pioneer of many trends in Indian historiography. However, he was an amateur historian. He was a mathematician by training and received his degree from Harvard University. He desired to undertake a specializing but failed to receive scholarship. He remained back in India and ventured in to field of History.

In history, he introduced the device of statistical conclusions. He became the first Marxist Historian in true sense. He used his understanding of mathematics in using statistical devices to present his conclusions in the subject of history. On the basis of his study of history, he gave the thesis of thematic periodization. He criticized the dynastic periodization of Indian history. The trend he started him later became the dominating theme of historic research in India.

He was a polyglot. He knew nearly eleven languages.

He had written four books and nearly fifty plus research papers. The OUP has published a combined book on Kosambi which includes all his works.

Meera Kosambi is her daughter. She is an expert in Sociology. She had contributed to the historiography of gender studies.

Finally, the trend of transporting the foreign models to Indian history and history study is still going on. The Chola period is being study with different perspective only because a theory of fragmentary empire is being borrowed from African history and fixed over the achievements of the Chola period in Indian history. This is the bane of Indian history. The Indians have not be able to develop any authoritative theory in the field of history. As I understand, it is also true in case of Indian Economy and Indian Sociology. The Gandhian Trusteeship is considered non-feasible option. Nehru brought mixed economy model. The experts in the field tried to convince every that it was the best answer at that time. Nehru framed his Public Private Sector economic planning on the basis of his socialism. The Indians were taught the lessons of saving and spending less. But nineties brought the open economy model. The expert now changed the tone of their ragas. They convinced us that it is the panacea for the health of the country. The mixed economy and license raj was the bane of Indian economy. The world is changing so we have to change. But what about the basic ratios of Indian economy and society. The class and caste divide is still. The people suffers due to illiteracy, lack of health services and poverty surrounded by rising malls and extending flyovers. This is all due to importing of intellectual models and weakness of Indian intellectual to bring out Indian models built on Indian given ground realities. One or two D. D. Kosambis are not enough. We need more Kosambis in field of social sciences.

The above impression received as scratches after merely talking for 29 minutes with a doyen.

Edited: Date: October 23, 2006: Added information.

Note: I stand responsible for the above views.

Additional sources on D. D. Kosambi:
Added on October 23, 2006:

Read the books by D. D. Kosambi online at Arvind Gupta Toys and his team. (Move Down the list to locate the books which are in PDF.)

Bhupinder Singh has also collected online sources on Blogspot site and Geocities Sites (They actually take you to Arvind Gupta work. Here it is acknowledged that the online books as given by Arvind Gupta was located through the posting of Bhupinder Singh.

K. M. Shrimali, another noted historian writes a review on the OUP book on D. D. Kosambi on Frontline

A. L. Basham had paid a personal Tribute to Baba in R. S. Sharma Edited ICHR Journal.

Dr. (Mrs.) Jyotsna Kamat write about Acharaya Kosambi the father of D. D. Kosambi on the family portal Kamat Potpurri.

Neutral Observer had recently reviewed the book "An Introduction to the Study of Indian History" a classic book by D. D. Kosambi.

Wikipedia has nothing much over an above than that could be collected from above sources. The article writer has used the online resources only to write it, something which I have done in many articles posted here.

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