The Many Careers of D.D. Kosambi

Critical Essays

D.N. Jha


LeftWord Books, 2011


203 pages

Price INR 275.00
Book Club Price INR 206.00
INR 275.00

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Damodar Dharmananda Kosambi (July 31, 1907 – June 29, 1966) was a man with a Renaissance type of versatility: he had a wide range of knowledge without sacrificing depth. He was a mathematician, statistician, and polymath who contributed to genetics by introducing Kosambi's map function. He did pioneering work in numismatics and in compiling critical editions of ancient Sanskrit texts. Above all, he was an outstanding Marxist historian.

The present volume brings together articles by scholars who assess Kosambi's contributions to Indian historiography, Indology, philology, the study of religions, historical materialism, and our understanding of caste in Indian history. While most essays deal with Kosambi the historian, the final essay presents a detailed scientific, historical and political assessment of his mathematical work. The essays are neither allergic to, nor adulatory about, Kosambi's work, but seek to present a balanced and critical appraisal, as well as updating our knowledge with the current thinking in the field.

The editor of this volume, Prof. D.N. Jha, is an acclaimed historian. The other contributors are: Irfan Habib, Suvira Jaiswal, Prabhat Patnaik, C.K. Raju, Krishna Mohan Shrimali, Eugenia Vanina, and Kesavan Veluthat.

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).


. . . this collection of essays is to be commended for the possibilities it opens up for a new generation of scholars — Marxists and non-Marxists alike — to build on Kosambi's ideas and insights.

Dileep Padgaonkar, Outlook

All the essays seek to reaffirm the place of Kosambi in Indian historiography.

The Hindu