Sarkar echoed this in redolent prose when in the last section of the second and concluding volume of the History of Bengal Dacca University, a volume that he edited he described the coming of British rule as the beginning Twenty years before he wrote those lines in the History of Bengal, he had observed: The English influence on Indian life and thought, which is still working and still very far from its completion, is comparable only to the ancient Aryan stimulus. The first gift of the English to India is universal peace, or freedom from foreign invasion and internal disorder The indirect examples of the English people have infused a spirit of progress into the Indians.
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Sarkar echoed this in redolent prose when in the last section of the second and concluding volume of the History of Bengal Dacca University, a volume that he edited he described the coming of British rule as the beginning Twenty years before he wrote those lines in the History of Bengal, he had observed: The English influence on Indian life and thought, which is still working and still very far from its completion, is comparable only to the ancient Aryan stimulus.
The first gift of the English to India is universal peace, or freedom from foreign invasion and internal disorder The indirect examples of the English people have infused a spirit of progress into the Indians.
Our best thinkers are no longer content with adoring the wisdom of our Vedic ancestors; they feel an eternal discontent with things as they are. Our most effective leaders do not repeat the pessimism of pre-British days by despising the modern as a race of degenerate pygmies and sighing for the return of the golden age of the far-off past Satya Yuga.
Their gaze is fixed forward. The History of Bengal by Sir Jadunath Sarkar Amazon The last years of the 19th century also witnessed the rise of nationalism and the critique of many aspects especially the economic of British rule in India. Sarkar was not influenced by these ideas and chose to ignore them. He had no sympathy for the Indian national movement and its leaders, including Gandhi. On the latter, in he wrote in a private letter to his friend and fellow-historian, G.
In it he makes his view that British rule had been beneficial for the Indian economy. It is hardly conceivable that as erudite a person as Sarkar had not read the works of R. Dutt and Dadabhai Naoroji, which provided detailed expositions of the exploitative nature of British rule and its links with the poverty of India.
Sarkar chose to ignore the analysis of these writers and the entire body of writing associated with economic nationalism. He subsequently taught both subjects but, though his writing of history was invariably informed by his study of literature, it is as a historian that Sarkar came to be primarily known. This became evident in the writing of his next project a multi-volume account of the reign of Aurangzeb a book which shot him into fame and is the work for which he is most remembered.
This is evident from the fact that he taught himself Persian and Marathi. Nonetheless his choice of Aurangzeb as the subject of what became his magnum opus is not without some significance. Individuals were important to Sarkar since he believed, as Chakrabarty points out in his book, that individuals with character were -- as agents of destiny or of divine providence the makers of history.
Aurangzeb, for Sarkar, was one such individual bestowed with the all-important gift of character. Aurangzeb, Sarkar wrote in the beginning of the first volume, His intellectual keenness was proverbial His patience and perseverance were as remarkable as his love for discipline and order.
In private life he was simple and abstemious like a hermit. He faced the privations of a campaign or a forced march as uncomplainingly as the most seasoned private Of the wisdom of the ancients, which can be gathered from ethical books, he was a master. Again, because he was a lover of literature, the notion of telling a story within a given chronological framework appealed to Sarkar.
His history of Aurangzeb and indeed all his other major books are embedded in very cogent and lucid narratives. He wrote in the opening of the fifth and final volume of his history of Aurangzeb, The life of Aurangzeb was one long tragedy a story of a man battling in vain an invisible and inexorable fate, a tale of how the strongest human endeavour was baffled by the forces of the age. He fell back on the individual his failings and his beliefs.
They [the Mughal emperors] also recognized it as a duty to preserve peace and the reign of law through their dominions. Sarkar was an admirer of Shivaji. He acknowledged, however, that many decades before Shivaji, another ruler had converted a military monarchy into a national state. But Sarkar chose not to write about Akbar.
This choice is a bit of an enigma. He wrote about what he thought was a nation state which was the creation of a Hindu ruler but not about a nation state that was the creation of a Muslim ruler. Was there a prejudice hidden in this choice?
Sarkar was an unashamed apologist of the British Empire long before he was made a knight of that Empire and came to be known as Sir Jadunath.
His encomium to the Empire was the flip side of his belief in the idea of Muslim tyranny. Ideally he should have written a history of British rule in India whereas, perhaps ironically, he became a pioneering historian of Mughal rule in India. History was a description of events about the past. That description had to be based on facts that had firm documentary provenance.
Historians had to be committed to facts, to documents and to expressing the Truth about the past. Sarkar was unrelenting in his pursuit of facts and Truth. This he saw as his moral responsibility. He was thus also a pioneer in the preservation of records and documents and the building up of archives. He was, as we have seen above, no denigrator of Aurangzeb; in fact he saw the emperor as a wise and hard-working ruler with character.
Because he admired Shivaji, Hindu nationalists have claimed him. Sarkar was no nationalist. He wrote in , The true scholar is a national of the Republic of Letters which transcends the narrow bounds of provinces, countries and languages, and places its student at the bar of the court of scholarship.
Let recognition by that court be the secret ambition of every one of our research workers. No serious historian today believes that historians can ever present the past as it actually was and arrive at the Truth. Historians have also moved to analysing the impersonal forces of the age and how these shape the lives of individuals and how they configure societies. At the same time, no historian questions the importance of facts as the bedrock of history writing.
In recognition of the importance of facts, historians today tend to look at the making of facts and of the documents from which the facts emerge. The writer is chancellor and professor of history Ashoka University Tags.
Jadunath Sarkar: The knight of Clio
Quotes[ edit ] I would not care whether truth is pleasant or unpleasant, and in consonance with or opposed to current views. I would not mind in the least whether truth is, or is not, a blow to the glory of my country. If necessary, I shall bear in patience the ridicule and slander of friends and society for the sake of preaching truth. But still I shall seek truth, understand truth, and accept truth. This should be the firm resolve of a historian. He taught the modern Hindus to rise to the full stature of their growth.