ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Sir Jadunath Sarkar.

Weekly Note from Vol X, No 21, May 24, 1958.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Sir Jadunath re-constructed Indian history f or over 200 year s. His ‘Hist or y of Aurangzeb,’ in five volumes, begins wit h t he reign of Shah Jehan; and the ‘Fall of the Mughal Empire’, in four volumes, takes the narration on to 1803. In bet ween, appeared the most popular of Sir Jadunath’s books, ‘Shivaji and His Times’ which has run into many editions. Here Sir Jadunath crossed swords with prejudiced British writers who would not assess the real worth of Shivaji as a national hero. That book brought a sense of confidence to many who were engaged in the fight for freedom; it made them fully realise that Indians could rule themselves, as they had done many years before. “We too were empire builders,” they could say to their critics and aspire to do so again. The real import of Sir Jadunath’s contribution can only be imagined. It cannot be reckoned in terms of words and figures. In his hands, the dry material of court happenings, fighting of various battles and coronations of different rulers got transformed. An unusual mastery of detail, extensive knowledge of the vast material scattered not only in India but also in the libraries and archives of Europe, love of accuracy and, above all, a broad and liberal outlook, born of practical underst anding, were some of t he character istics of Sir Jadunath’s writings. It is dif ficult to find a peer to him in his output, in his wide sweep of reading, in his collection of rare books, manuscripts and maps, and almost paternal attention to the requirements of his st udent s, Sir Jadunat h was unique in all t hese respects. Besides, one must take note of some Governmental publications that were prompted and personally supervised by Sir Jadunath. The Government of Bombay will not forget how constantly he knocked at its doors in Bombay and Poona for the publication of 48 volumes of ‘Selections from the Peshwa Daftar’ and 15 volumes of ‘Residency Records’ out of the vast material lying in Poona. Many similar volumes of sourcematerial have been published from different places, thanks again to Sir Jadunath, his untiring zeal and his keen appreciation.

If our national awakening, it is not easy to judge the contribution of historians. Without allowing his studies to be disturbed by passing storms of politics. Sir Jadunath continued his life-long work, undeterred by the many misfortunes in his family, by the sudden and accidental death of dear ones. He was the living embodiment of the ideal of plain living and high thinking, a real Karmayogi to the last day of his life, and a life-long student. He died at the ripe old age of 87 in Calcutta on May 19. It is impossible to look for a historian of his stature, of his vision and understanding, of his commanding personality.

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