Wednesday, February 09, 2005

DN Jha: Review of The Vedic Age

Outlook has a review of a recent (well, not that recent) book by Irfan Habib and Vijay Kumar Thakur. The book is titled "The Vedic Age". The reviewer is the well-known historian DN Jha. Here's the link. Perhaps an easy introduction to the book, one gets at the Editorial:

    The Vedic Age completes the first set of three monographs in the People’s History of India series. It deals with the period c 1500 to c. 700 bc, during which it sets the Rigveda and the subsequent Vedic corpus.

    It explores aspects of geography, migrations, technology, economy, society, religion, and philosophy. It draws on these texts to reconstruct the life of the ordinary people, with special attention paid to class as well as gender. In a separate chapter, the major regional cultures as revealed by archaeological evidence are carefully described.

    Much space is devoted to the coming of iron, for the dawn of the Iron Age- though not the Iron Age itself- lay within the period this volume studies. There are special notes on Historical Geography, the caste system (whose beginnings lay in this period) and the question of Epic Archaeology. A special feature of this monograph is the inclusion of seven substantive extracts from sources, which should give the reader a taste of what these texts are like.

    As in the first two monographs, the authors seek to present updated information with clarity of exposition and reasoned analysis. Both the general reader and the student should, therefore, find here much that is interesting and thought provoking.

    The Aligarh Historians Society, the sponsor of the project of A People’s History of India, is dedicated to the cause of promoting the scientific method in history, and resisting communal and chauvinistic interpretations.

Now, as I understand, DN Jha is a serious historian, like Romila Thapar or Irfan Habib or RS Sharma. One would expect a certain decency from someone like Jha while reviewing a book. I'm not talking about the content of the review here, of which I do not know much to make a comment. What I disliked is this: throughout the review, Jha is deliberately blind to the fact that the book is a joint work. He attributes everything solely to Irfan Habib. He ends the review thus:
    Enriched by extracts from primary texts, Habib can clearly handle a wide variety of sources. Far from being a narrow specialist in medieval history, he works on a very wide canvas of time. In fact, those of us who’ve seen him present research papers on ancient Indian historical geography at the IHC may be puzzled to find a coauthor on the cover. Did he really need that?
Looks very distasteful. Did DN Jha really need that?


Post a Comment

<< Home