Ram Sharan Sharma (1920–2011) was one of the pioneering historians of post-independence India. His work has shaped our understanding of Indian history as we know it today.
Sharma believed that history and theory are intimately linked, and that history is a form of knowledge which is theoretically accessible. Yet, he could combine the use of refined theoretical tools to analyse problems and communicate them in the simplest possible language. He saw historical writing as an intensely political activity and led the battle of ideas against colonialist, communal, chauvinistic and obscurantist approaches to the study of history all his life.
With the underlying goal of studying the diverse forms of state, social and political institutions, and their role in the making of history, this volume brings together contributions from some of India’s finest historians to focus on some of Sharma’s key preoccupations. Section I includes essays on sociology and history, the state, trade and urbanisation, and the shudras—highlighting recent developments, while acknowledging Sharma’s pioneering work in these areas. Section II focuses on archaeology and its use in reconstructing history, including essays on the pre-Satavahanas, Satavahanas, Ajivikas, servitude, the Kaliyuga, forced labour and peasantry, war in ancient Indian thought, and Kavya literature and historical change. The final section engages with the theory and practice of colonialism at different locations, with essays on new religious sects as exponents of radical socio-political ideas, the concept of civilisation, and womanhood.
This volume will be invaluable to all students and scholars of history.
Bhairabi Prasad Sahu and Kesavan Veluthat
R. S. SHARMA AND EARLY INDIAN HISTORIOGRAPHY
1. Ram Sharan Sharma (1920–2011)
2. Studying India’s Past: The Need for a Sociological Turn
3. Cracking the Narcissist’s Mirror: The Historiographical Legacy of R. S. Sharma
B. Surendra Rao
4. R. S. Sharma and the Histories of State in Early India
Bhairabi Prasad Sahu
5. The Unspoken Debate: Revisiting Mid-20th Century Conceptualisations of the Shudras
6. Ways of Seeing: R. S. Sharma’s Study of Trade and Urbanisation in the First Millennium
QUERYING THE EARLY INDIAN PAST
7. Dynamics of ‘State’ Organisation in Pre-Satavahana and Satavahana Settlements in the Deccan
M. L. K. Murty
8. Revisiting the Ajivikas in Epigraphic Records
Susmita Basu Majumdar
9. Changing Forces, Relations and Forms of Servitude in Early India
10. Making the Best of a Bad Bargain: The Brighter Side of Kaliyuga
11. The Problem of War in Ancient Indian Thought
12. Texts and Transitions: Early Indian Literature and the Problem of Historical Change
13. Forced Labour and Peasantry in Medieval Tamil Nadu (900–1300 CE)
DOMINATION AND RESISTANCE
14. New Religious Sects as Exponents of Radical Socio-Political Ideas: Case Studies from Eastern India, 1769–1882
Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri
15. The Concept of Civilisation in the Theory of International Law in the 19th Century
16. Womanhood and Anxiety in a Marginal Colony: A Goan Episode
Selected Writings of Professor R. S. Sharma
Notes on Contributors
Bhairabi Prasad Sahu is Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi, Delhi.
Kesavan Veluthat is Director, Institute for the Study of the Heritage of Coastal Kerala, Muziris International Research and Convention Centre, Kodungallur, Kerala.