Bhasker Anand Saletore: Concluding Remarks

This article is part 8 of 8 in the series B.A. Saletore

Contributions to Journals

And now, in the penultimate leg of our discussion, we can briefly examine the other sphere where B.A. Saletore was at his prolific best. This was his multifaceted and frequent contributions to various academic and specialist journals, and they are perhaps one of the best first-hand sources to understand his range of scholarship and his expressive prowess. Saletore’s contributions to academic journals run into more than a hundred essays, monographs and papers. The following is only a brief list of titles that helps us get a flavor of his gamut.

·       Folk songs of the Tuluvas

·       Historical Notices of The Lokayatas

·       The Tuluva Gramapaddhati

·       The Ancient Kingdom Of Punnata

·       A Sumerian Custom and its Historic Indian Parallels

·       Some Historical and Quasi-historical Incidents in Kautilya’s Arthasastra

·       The Kanaphata Jogis in Southern History

·       The Identification of Satiyaputta

·       Rise of Vijayanagara

·       Successors of the Satavahanas in the Eastern Deccan

·       The Antiquity of Pandarpur

·       An Unidentified Embassy to the Court of King Siddharaja of Gujarat

·       Reminiscences of the Maukhari Rule in Karnataka

·       A New Persian Embassy to the Vijayanagara Court

·       The Value of Kannada Sources for the History of the Marathas, the Bijapur and Mughal Sultans

Next, the following is a list of the journals he wrote for.

·       Journal of the Assam Research Society

·       Poona Orientalist

·       Indian Culture

·       Indian Antiquary

·       The New Indian Antiquary

·       Indian Historical Quarterly

·       Karnatak Historical Review,

·       Proceedings of the Indian History Congress

Saletore was an equally prolific reviewer and here are some of the books he reviewed. 

·      Devudu's "Karnataka Samskruti"

·      Karnataka Vira Kshatriyaru

·      Successors of the Satavahanas in the Eastern Deccan

·       Kanmareyada Kannada Athava Kannadara Moolasthana

·       Maharashtrada Moola

·       A note on Cauthai and its meaning and legality

Section 4: Views on Indian History

Finally, it is only befitting to end this discussion by examining Saletore’s exposition on the study of Indian history both as an academic discipline and as a sacred calling. The following is an excerpt from his address when he was appointed as the founding President of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture at the Dharwad University. I would like to express my thanks to Dr. S.R. Ramaswamy for unearthing this gem and for Shashi Kiran for sending it to me.

I may observe that ancient Indian history denotes a vast and complicated field. Not only are the chronological limits of ancient India not clearly defined but the contents comprising its study are not adequately described. With the discovery of the archaeological finds in the Indus valley and elsewhere and the immense literary, epigraphic and numismatic evidence and a wealth of indigenous sources in prominent Indian languages, the range and depth of the study of Ancient Indian history have been so widened as to cause bewilderment to scholars. [Emphasis added]

The last line is perhaps the most significant. Indeed, the only other exemplar from Karnataka who spotted, spoke, wrote and predicted this phenomenon was Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri.

Bhasker Anand Saletore was also among that rare breed of Indian scholars who foresaw the dangers of and did not mince his words about the slow emergence of historical and cultural vandals like Romila Thapar and her gang. We are stunned when recall that he spoke the following lines in 1957—in that same presidential address—when the Marxist cabal was nowhere as powerful as they eventually became.

But unfortunately in this particular sphere of ancient Indian history, a good deal of loose talk by some persons has made the task of the historian onerous. In their view, Ancient Indian history is supposed to refer to some insignificant personalities of the past. [Emphasis added]

On the topic of Indian Culture, Saletore is even more unsparing:

Ancient Indian Culture is a coveted field which can only be covered by officials today. This novel concept which devolves a self-imposed responsibility on administrators, has not helped the cause of either history or culture. The frivolous and intemperate use of the word culture in our own days, has only served to add confusion in regards to the contents of the subject. People have, for some reason perverted the use of the term Culture, and being on vantage ground, persist in their perversion and what is worse, hold up their views as models for the rest of the world to follow. It is time that the rational world cried halt to their presumptuous perambulations in a province that falls outside the purview of outrageous officialdom. To single out one or two of the numerous components that make up culture and to pompously parade them as being culture itself, without materially fostering the cause of the less attractive but more potent factors, would be to put a premium on one's own powers of intellectually grasping it fully. [Emphasis added]

But in a more telling fashion, Saletore also brings home a fundamental, and a common-sense truth that is evident to everyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of our cultural history.

No foreign element however tyrannical it might have been, has ever succeeded in imposing its stamp on Indian Culture without itself losing to a large extent its own relentless nature.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bhasker Anand Saletore did not write voluminously like say P.V. Kane, but what he wrote became masterpieces and lampposts in the study of Indian history. It is a national crime that his works have remained forgotten and uncared for, for three-fourths of a century.

There are serious historians, there are bookish historians, there are mediocre historians, and to use P.V. Kane's memorable phrase, "there are mere collectors." Bhasker Anand Saletore belonged to that other rare category: he was a seriously talented historian. That talent repeatedly shows itself in most of his works but shines at its resplendent best in his Vijayanagara volumes and the monograph on Sthanikas. When we closely read these works, we understand what he was trying to do and at this distance in time, how brilliantly he succeeded in doing it: a thorough cultural reconstruction of all aspects of the Hindu civilization by allowing the people and institutions of that era to tell their story in their own words. On this point alone, Saletore elevated himself from being a mere scholar of history to the status of an exemplar of Indian wisdom.

Concluded

Author(s)

About:

Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

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