History Assignment: 3
Q.1) What were the main characteristics of the writings of the Nationalist School of Historiography? Ans: The Nationalist School of historical writing contributed to the self- confidence, self-assertion and a certain national pride which enabled Indian people to struggle against colonialism especially in the face of denigration of India's past and the consequent inferiority complex promoted by colonial writers. K.A. Nilakanta Sastri and other historians also helped overcome the regional bias. In this respect, as in many others, nationalist historical writing in India became a major unifying factor as far as the literate Indians were concerned. Nationalist historiography flourished mainly in dealing with the ancient and medieval periods. In the First Generation, the Indian historians began writing ancient Indian history. Most famous among them was R.G. Bhandarkar. The Indian historians did not have any new perspective on Indian history. They blindly followed the model set by the British historians who focussed on dynastic narratives or political history. In the Second Generation, the Indian historians continued to write political and dynastic history, but the interpretations were based on the nationalist point of view. This period saw the growth of nationalism. In the 1920’s and the 1930’s the Second Generation felt the impact of the National Movement. Some of the prominent historians at that time were H.C. Raychaudhuri, K.P.Jayaswal, R.C. Majumdar, R. K. Mookerjea, H.C. Ojha, Jadunath Sarkar, A.S. Altekar, U. Ghoshal. After facing a lot of criticism by James Mill, the Indian historians primarily aimed at building national self respect in order to compensate for the humiliation. They did so by stressing on the glorification of India’s past. An appropriate example of how the Nationalist historians focused on the glorification of ancient India’s past would be: K.A. Nilakanta Sastri in his book “A History of South India” glorified the rise and the expansion of the Satavahana power in the sixth chapter “The Satavahanas and Their successors”. He provided a detailed description of the area and duration of their rule. He also highlights the revival of the Satavahanas under Gautamiputra Satakarni and his son. Their trade, religion, society and polity have also been glorified by the writer. 1) The Indian historians proclaimed the colonial notion of India's tradition of spirituality as a mark of distinction and of India's greatness and superiority over the West, especially in terms of 'moral values'. They vehemently denied the notion of ancient Indian being inefficient in running a state. 2) They hailed the discovery of the Arthashastra by Kautalya and said that it proved that Indians were equally interested and proficient in administration, diplomacy and economic management by the state. Many glorified Kautalya and compared him with Machiavelli and Bismarck. The Mantri Parishad described by Kautalya was compared with the Privy Council of Britain. The Kautalyan king was said to be similar to the constitutional king of Britain. 3) Non-violence was considered the distinguishing feature of Indian culture but there was glorification of military power. Asoka was praised for his commitment to nonviolence by some historians; others condemned him for the same as it weakened the empire against foreign invaders 4) A few historians also highlighted the existence of assemblies, parliaments and the cabinet system, as under Chandra Gupta and Akbar. K.P. Jayaswal, a celebrated historian, took this entire approach to the extreme. He said that the ancient Indian republics were based on the concept of democracy and representative Government, just like the Greek political institutions. Colonial historians stressed that Indians were always divided by religion, region, language, and caste, that it was colonialism alone which unified them. The Nationalist historians countered the colonial view by claiming that...
References: 1) Economic & political week, volume 23. no 18 - In search of our past- Uma Chakravarti and Kumkum Roy.
2) Status of Women in Indian Society - Dr. (Ms.) Rekha Singh.
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