Against the Grain

Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History

D.N. Jha


Manohar Books, 2020

Language: English

243 pages

Price INR 495.00

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The present collection consists of essays and short notes on some of the issues that dominate the political and cultural discourse of contemporary India which is witnessing the unprecedented ascendancy of the Hindu Right. The volume represents a spontaneous response to its several loony assertions about the history and culture of India: India is a Hindu rashtra and the Hindu identity goes back to geological time; the cow has always been sacred and unslayble; Hinduism is a tolerant religion; mythologies are the true histories of India; chanting of Bharat Mata ki Jai is an indisputable proof of one’s patriotism; Indian historians are ‘Macaulay’s children’ – stupid statements such as these, made with increasing frequency by the Hindutva votaries, figure prominently in public discourse as well as in private drawing room conversations.

This short yet timely volume seeks to debunk the myths of a fantastic antiquity of Hindu identity, spuriousness of the Brahminical tolerance and the pseudo nationalism of the saffron brigade whose historio-graphy is rooted in colonialism and has multiple western paternity. It is therefore addressed more to those lay men and women who may be vulnerable to the hocus-pocus of the Sangh Parivar and less to its members who are averse to reading, and rational thinking and love to wallow in their ignorance.

D.N. Jha

Dwijendra Narayan Jha (1940-2021), popularly known as D.N. Jha, was educated at the Presidency College, Calcutta, and Patna University where he taught history for more than a decade. He was professor of History at the University of Delhi until his retirement in 2005. He has authored several books including The Myth of the Holy Cow (London, 2002) and Rethinking Hindu Identity (London,2009) which have not gone well with India’s Right Wing establishment. Professor Jha was elected sectional President of Andhra Pradesh History Congress (1987) and General President, Punjab History Conference (1999). A UGC National lecturer (1984-5) and Honorary Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, he was secretary, Indian History Cogress (1986-9) which elected him its General President in 2005-6. A recipient of the prestigious H.K. Barpujari Award in 1995, he was honoured by the Asiatic Society of Calcutta in 2011 for his significant contributions. (2004).