KASHI PRASAD JAYASWAL: The Making of a ‘Nationalist’ Historian
In the heady days of nationalist movement in the early-twentieth-century India, history-writing emerged as a contentious site of academic research and politico-ideological polemics. For the politically conscious Indian intelligentsia, history-writing served the need for not only reconstructing India’s pre-colonial history anew by challenging its prevailing colonial interpretations and thereby underminign the ideological foundations of the colonial rule, but also constructing the ideas of India as a historically constittuted nation and thereby ideologically underpinning the rising tide of nationalism.
In this fraught political and intellectucal milieu, Kashi Prasad Jayaswal stands out as a prominent scholar and prolific speaker and writer, but reductive labels such as ‘nationalist historian’ generally used for him obfuscate not only his wide-ranging contributions in what was still a developing academic discipline, but also his diverse pursuits as a public intellectual. Exploring a vast corpus of his well-known and not-so-well-known, published and unpublished writings as well as those on him, this book reconstructs the hitherto unstudied, complex and multi-faceted persona of Jayaswal-his social background, the range of political and intellectual influences on him, his shifting, often conflicting, views and even perplexing silences on a variety of social, political and academics issues, and his phenomenal contributions as a historian, epigraphist, numismatist, linguist, journalist and instittuion-builder. It also shows how he, as a product of his times, was a man of paradoxes in his beliefs and writings even as he broke new grounds in the fields he explored. Arguably the first ever serious study of Jayaswal and his times, the book is useful for students and researchers of history and historiography.
Ratan Lal, currently Associate Professor of History at Hindu College, University of Delhi, has been teaching and researching for almost two decades. As a bilingual historian, he has delivered lectures and published several articles on a diversity of contemporary political and intellectual issues, including caste, human rights and gender, in Hindi magazines and on social media platforms. He has also edited a three-volume compilation of Kashi Prasad Jayaswal’s writings and authored a book titledAur Kitne Rohit?As a tireless social and political activist, he has led several fearless and successful campaigns on Dalit and human rights issues.