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Durable Link to this BlogMonday, February 04, 2008

Viswanath Kashinath Rajwade

Viswanath Kashinath Rajwade -(1863 –1921 CE)

Mr. V.K. Rajwade was a rare combination of a researcher, history grammarian, social scientist and etymologist. Born in an orthodox family, he lost his father at the age of three. His mother with two children-both boys, came and stayed with her father at Warsai Maharashtra. For schooling the brothers went to Pune. Viswanth passed matriculation examination in 1882. He could not pursue college studies, due to poverty. He became a trainer for second division clerks in Public Service Department. After earning some money, he joined Deccan College, and became a graduate in 1997. Though he was greatly influenced by scholarly teachers like R.G. Bhandarkar, he came to know the futility of higher education in India, which did not help original thinking or research. He did not seek government employment, which was indirect slavery according to him.

As was the practice, he was married at 15, and when his wife died after giving birth two children, he did not remarry, though he was only 30. He started translating world classics in Marathi and started a Monthly called "Bhashantar". He brought out 15 translations including Plato's "Republic".

He was unhappy with Maratha history books written by Grant Duff and others, which try to establish conquerors' view of subjugated people, and wanted to present unbiased point of view. A student’s letter informing about discovery of a trunk full of old records at Wai (Satara District. Maharashtra) made him rush to the spot. The dormant researcher in him came out with full vigor.

There were 202 records pertaining to battle of Panipat in that trunk. 1st volume of these edited records came out in no time (1896). 22 books on ‘Sources of Maratha History’ followed.

He now started touring the whole of Maharashtra region. No item pertaining to art, architecture, iconography, social life, language, literature, customs, folk traditions escaped his inquisitive eye. As soon as news about the possibility of getting fresh material reached, he would dash off to the place by any available transport or on foot, taking with him minimum clothing and cooking utensils. In those days no eateries existed in remote areas for orthodox Brahmins. Self-cooking was the only way, to survive.

He got the oldest commentary on Jnaneswari and brought out its earliest grammatical form. He edited "Radha Madhav Vilas Champu" of Jayaram Pindye of Shahaji’s (father of Shivaji) time, which has special bearing on the history of contemporary Karnataka. Another book of original source he edited was Mahikavatichi Bakhar. He explored one more important source of history i.e etymology (study of origion of words), led to several archaic rituals & practices of man-kind and he proved it on the basis of ancient texts. His incomplete work on the "History of Indian Marriage - Institution" shows his sound knowledge of Sanskrit (including archaic and Vedic Sanskrit) as also vast reading of world literature in English of the period. His unbiased interpretation of hoary mantras, and Mahabharata and Puranic episodes regarding man-woman relation & evolution of marriage custom led to storm of protests. He was far ahead in rational approach towards study of history.

A sage like scholar, known for austere habits and long hours of work and incessant traveling, he died of high-blood pressure on 31st of December 1921.

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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