Social Scientist. v 4, no. 39 (Oct 1975) p. 3.


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Historical Perspectives on Ancient India

THERE IS a growing awareness among historians everywhere in the post-Ranke period of historiography that any view of history depends as much on the eye of the beholder as the source-materials themselves, that is, every group and every new generation tends to revise old judgements and attitudes. The eye means the mind and the mind represents the whole spectrum of social background, philosophy^ interest and motivation.

Till the middle of the present century Indian history was conceived and presented in terms of a Eurocentric outlook by British and European historians. The early history of India, which was completely lost, was rediscovered by these foreigners and pieced together by their patient labour from obscure literary texts, inscriptions in forgotten scripts, and stray foreign notices. In this way it was all the more susceptible to the impact of Western ideas and prejudices, especially because it was all meant for a European public, although educated Indians began to creep in as "an eavesdropping audience9'. It was apparently remote and free from the pressures of contemporary politics but in practice very much affected by such bias, this being all the more harmful as it was largely unconscious and consequently undetected.

In the middle decades of the present century, and increasingly in the period after independence, a good number of Indian scholars have



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