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Gujarati Intellectuals and History Writing in the Colonial PeriodAuthor(s): Riho IsakaReviewed work(s):Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 37, No. 48 (Nov. 30 - Dec. 6, 2002), pp. 4867-4872Published by: Economic and Political WeeklyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4412910 .
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7/28/2019 Gujji Intellectuals
Gujarati Intellectualsn d HistoryWrting i n t h e Colonial Period
The aim of this paper is to examine how the Gujarati intellectuals in the colonial periodnarratedtheir regional history and in thatprocess presented a specific notion of Gujaratand the Gujaratis.In the 19th century,Indianelites in general began to reformlulate asteand religious identities and articulate regional identity and Indian nationalism byappropriatingand modifyingcertain ideas and idioms introduced under British rule andothers existing in the local society. This paper analyses some representative narratives ofregional history by the late-19th centuryGujaratiliterati and considers how they werelinked with the identity-formation of the people in this region in the long term.RI1o ISAKA
Writings f Historyn the words of Sudipta Kaviraj, historyis 'awayof talking about the collectiveself, and bringing it into existence'[Kaviraj 1995: 108]. It seems that EdaijiDosabhai, a Parsi who wrote one of theearliest publications on the history ofGujarat,was awareof this role of historywriting.1 In the preface of his GljaratnoItihas (History of Gujarat), published in1850, he stressedthenecessity of knowingthe history of one's own country (desh).He further added that no comprehensivework had been written in Gujaration thehistory of this region [Edalji 1850: 2-3].Edalji Dosabhai was not the only persontorecogniseanewimportance nthewritingof history.Infact,contemporaryIndiasawthe emergence of widespread active dis-cussion on history among the urban eliteeducated under the colonial system.The British gave an impetus to thisprocess throughtheir writings of history,editing of school textbooks, and interac-tion with Indian ntellectuals. Forinstance,Edalji Dosabhai's Gujaratno Itihas wasoriginally a prize essay selected by theGujarat Vernacular Society, the literaryassociation established in 1848 by a Brit-ishjudge,AlexanderKinloch Forbes 1821-1865). Forbes further suggested Edalji'sbook be publishedandadoptedas a schooltextbook [Edalji 1894: i]. Similarly,MaganlalVakhatchand 1830-1868), aJainintellectual, wrote Gujarat DeslhnoItihas(published in 1860) as a school textbook[Maganlal1860].2This book seems to havebeen widely used in schools and its sixthedition was alreadypublished in 1870. Healso wrote Amdavadno ltihas (History ofAhmedabad, 1851), which was againoriginally aprize essay intheessay contest
of the Gujarat Vernacular Society[Maganlal 1851(1977)]. MahipatramRupramNilkanth (1829-1891),3 a famousNagar brahmaneducator, wrote a book onthehistoryof Gujarat or students[Nilkanth1878]. While several books such as thesewere writtenon a comprehensive historyof Gujaratwith the encouragement of thecolonial government, the Gujarati literatibegan to formulate their perception ofhistorythrough various social and literaryactivities.
Gujaratischolars of this period largelydepended on 19th-century British workson the historyof India and of Gujaratwhenstudying their own regional history. Ex-amples of British workstheyoften referredtoincludedA KForbes's RasMala: HindooAnnals of the Province of Gooserat inWestern ndia 1856),4 JamesTod's Annalsand Antiquitiesof Rajasthan(1829, 1832)and English translations of the Persianchronicles, Mirat-i-Ahmadi and Mirat-i-SikanllaribyJames Birdand E C Bayley.5Edalji Dosabhai, in his first book on thehistoryof Gujarat.referred o GrantDuff'sA History of the Mahrattas (1826), JamesBird's translation fMirat-i-Alhadi (ratherthan the original), and the East IndiaGazetteer. When he rewrote the book in1894, this time in English, his range ofreferences was naturally broader, but al-most all of the works newly included wereby Europeans. They included Ras Mala,Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan,BiUhler'sresearch, E C Bayley's LocalMuihanImadan nasties ofGujarat(trans-lation of ir-i-l i nirat-i-i ad Mirat-i-Sikandari), J W Watson's History ofGujarat (which was included in the Gaz-etteerof theBombayPresidency n 18966),James Forbes's OrientalMemoirs(1813),HG Briggs's CitiesofGujarashtra(1849),FA HEl ot's TheRulersofBaroda(1879),
official publications such as gazetteervolumes and administration reports, andworks by W W Hunter and MountstuartElphinstone[Edalji1894: -iii, 210-11]. Theonly book in his bibliography written byan Indian author was Romesh ChandraDutt's History of Ancient Civilisation.Other historians such as MaganlalVakhatchand and Govindbh:li HathibhaiDesai7used similar materizals.Thus, wecan clearly see that local historians suchas Edalji and Maganlal, who were edu-catedunder the colonial system, dependedon European sources in order to under-stand local history; this was a quite com-mon phenomenon in colonial India. Itshould be stressed, however, that this factdid not prevent them from adopting theseaccounts rather selectively, according totheirown views andthe way in which theywanted to projecttheirhistory. We shouldalso remember that these British sources,in turn, drew heavily on existing localaccounts of history. As C A Bayly hasargued, 'indigenous understandings' oflocal society, though distorted, continuedto inform the British understandingof thatsociety [Bayly 1996: 369].The way in which Gujarati literati se-lectively adopted British writings of his-toryisevident intheirstyleofperiodisation.As ParthaChatterjeehas already exploredwith regard to Bengal, the style ofperiodisation according to the religiousaffinity of rulers (such as the periods ofHindu rule and of Muslim rule) used intheBritishaccounts left a significantimpacton the Indian intellectuals' perception ofhistory [Chatterjee 1993, 1994]. In thecase of Gujarat, too, the literati began tosee the partitions in history in a similarway. Under the influence of British writ-ings, forinstance,EdaljiDosabhaichangedhis original style of periodisation in the
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revised English version of his book, AHistory of Gujarat: From the EarliestPeriod to the Present Time (published in1894). In his original version, 'GujaratnoItihas', Edalji divided the book into twosections. The first section includes a smallportionon the Hindudynasties anda moredetailed account of the Muslim dynasty ofGujarat.The second section begins withthe time when Gujaratwas integratedintothe Mughal empire and further coversMaratharuleand British rule. By contrast,in the revised book, the first part was notsimply entitled 'Early History' as in theprevious book, but 'Early History: HinduPeriod'. This was followed by threeparts:(2) 'MuhammadanPeriod: From 1297 to1572 A.D.' (3) 'From the conquest ofGujarat by the emperor Akbar till itsoccupation by the Marathas: From 1573to 1753 A D', and(4) 'From the conquestof Gujaratby the Marathas to the presenttime: From 1757 to 1893 A D' [Edalji1894]. We should note here that A KForbes's influential work, Ras Mala,published in 1856, consists of four parts:(1) the Hindu dynasties, (2) the Muslimrulers,and(3) the Marathasand the Britishperiod, while the final section describesthe population and customs of Gujarat[Forbes1856].The gazetteerof theBombayPresidency published in 1896 under thegovernmentof Bombay also followed thisstyle of four periods, dedicating a sectioneach to 'Early History of Gujarat','MusalmanPeriod(1297-1760)', 'MarathaPeriod(1760-1819)', and 'GujaratDistur-bances (1857-1859)' [Gazetteer 1896].Interestingly, while using the terms suchas the 'Hindu Period' and the 'Muham-madanPeriod',Edaljistillkeptthedivisionbetween the period of the Gujaratsultansand thatof theMughalempire. This meansthat while partly adoptingthe Britishstyleof periodisationaccording to the religiousidentity of the rulers, Edalji still found itdifficult to ignore the difference betweenthe Gujarat Sultanate and the Mughalempire. In otherwords, his adoptionof theBritish framework of periodisation re-mained partial.Before we move on todiscussion of howthese periods, that is, the 'Hindu period',the 'Muslim period', the 'Marathaperiod'andthe 'Britishperiod' were each narratedintherepresentative ccountsby the BritishandGujaratiwriters,we should take noteof the geographical area covered in thesehistory books. These intellectuals, in theirwritings of Gujaratihistory, in fact mainlyfocused on the rulers based in Patan andAhmedabad.When a narrative ocused onkathiawad,it was no longer considered tobe a 'History of Gujarat' but instead pre-sented as a 'History of Kathiawad'. Al-though the late-19th century literati at the
same time tried to project kathiawad andsouth Gujaratas part of Gujarat, in theirwritings of the history of Gujarat, it wasmostly the region around Ahmedabadwhich occupied a central place.IIDescriptionsf theHistoryofGujarat
Edalji Dosabhai, in his short review ofthe 'Hinduperiod', openly quoted the textof Forbes's Ras Mala and concluded thatHindu kings converted the country from'a waste' to a land 'flowing with milk andhoney' [Edalji1894: 51]. Inmanycontem-porary writings, the description of theancient 'Hindu period' was characterisedbysuchglorification.In hisregard, t shouldbe noted thatcontemporary Gujarati iter-ary circles were dominated by high-casteHindus, Jains and Parsis. In particular,Nagar brahmans and vaniyas (includingJains) occupied a leading position. Thesehigh-caste Hindu literati argued, for in-stance, that in the ancient period one findsa pure form of language [Shastri 1887:86]8 and that there were none of the un-desirablecustomsof contemporary ocietysuch as child marriageand women's 'cry-ing and beating of breasts' in mourning[Mukta1997:227]. Thegloryof the 'Hinduperiod' was often contrasted with the'decline' of society and cultureduringthe'Muslim period'. Dalpatram Dahyabhai(1820-1898), awell knownShrimaliBrah-man poet of the late 19th century, forinstance, considered that, with the ar-rival of Muslim rulers, the knowledgeof people in Hindustan decreased[Dalpatram 1921: 8]. NarmadshankarLalshankar(1833-1886), a contemporaryof Dalpatramanda famousNagarbrahmanwriter, attributed the decline both ofbrahmanic ultureandof thegeneral ntelli-gence of Gujaratis oMuslimrule[Narmad-shankar 1874: 95-6]. This perception isagainevident indescriptionsof the literarytradition of Gujarat by late-19th centuryliterati. In their perception, the 'classicalliterature' of Gujaratconsisted mainly oftwo kinds:onewastheJain iteraturewrittenin sanskrit, prakrit,apabhramshaand oldGujarati,and the other consisted of worksby well-known Hindu poets (kavis) suchas Mira (Miram), Narasimha Mehta(Maheta), Akho, Premanand,Samal Bhattand Dayaram. In contrast with these twogenres, thePersian literaturepatronisedbyMuslim courtsand the Islamichymns sungin local society were given little impor-tance [Isaka 2002]. Inview of the fact thatboth Muslim and Hindu elites had deepassociations with Persian language untilthe 19th century,9 this neglect of Persianliterature is ratherstriking.
It was on the basis of this image of aglorious ancient period thatthe high-casteHindu literati advocated the regenerationof the country. Some Hindu intellectualsbegan to link the image more consciouslywith the assertion of a great aryanrace andcivilisation, which covered all Hindustan.This development reflected not only theinfluence of British writings on theGujaratis, but also the growing influenceof contemporary ntellectual discourses inother parts of India - in particularthosein Bengal and Maharashtra.For instance,B K Thakore, in his diary in 1892, expre-ssed his excitement afterreading RomeshChandra Dutt's work on ancient India:
FinishedDutt's ancient India.I rememberthe first time, four years back, that thereadingof Macaulay irst awakenedme toNationalityand nationalprogress.A pro-cession of noble patriotsholdingaloft thesacred bannerof a nation on the marchthat is history [Trivedi 1976: 42].For B K Thakore, Dutt's was the 'firstbook by an Indian' he had read 'capableof exciting in the sympathetic heart' somekind of patriotism [Trivedi 1976: 43]. Theperceptionof agreat Gujarat n the ancientperiod became in fact further evident inthe writingsof an influential 20th centurywriter, K M Munshi (1887-1971). Hispopularnovel, GujaratnoNath(TheMasterof Gujarat) and his voluminous work onthe history of Gujaratentitled The Glo-yThat Was Gurjaradesa are examples ofthis.10As discussed later, such glorifica-tion of Hindu rule by Munshi was accom-
panied at the same time by a greateremphasis on decline under Muslim rule.Yet, we should note here that the literatiof the late 19thcentury also illustratedtheprosperity of Gujarat during the same'Muslim period' and contrasted this withthe following 'Marathaperiod' characte-rised by the oppression and exploitationof the Maratha rulers. For these Gujaratihistorians, the image of flourishing tradeand commerce undercertainMuslim rulerswas too strong to be ignored. Inparticular,in the case of Ahmedabad, the develop-ment of the mercantile tradition thereoccupied a central place in public percep-tion of its history. It was on this point thatlocal historians could not agree with A KForbes, in whose eyes even the 'tall mina-ret of the Moslem' in Ahmedabad wasnothing but a symbol of Muslim tyranny[Forbes 1856; 387-8]. EdaljiDosabhai, forinstance,described how AhmadShah,whofounded Ahmedabad in 1411, made thiscity 'a centre of trade and manufacture'by gathering 'merchants, weavers andskilled craftsmen from many differentplaces', settling them and giving them'every encouragement' [Edalji 1894: 67].
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This imageof Ahmedabad as a prosperouscity was repeatedin the myth recordedbyG P Taylor in the early 20th century. Themyth tells the story of an incident whichsupposedly took place during the time ofAhmad Shah. A kotval, or head policeofficer of the city, on his night patrol metthe goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. She or-dered him to bring the sultan to the spot,but the kotval tried to reject this request,saying thatshe might disappearby the timehe brought the king. The goddess thenpromised him that she would not leaveuntil she saw the ruler. When the kotvalgave this message to Ahmad Shah, thesultan ordered hat the kotval be killed andnever went to the spot, thus preventingLakshmifrom leaving his city. As a resultof this, the goddess of fortune remainedin the city, waiting for the king, and theprosperityof Ahmedabad continued fromthis time [Commissariat 1922: 98].Along with Ahmad Shah, another well-known ruler among the Gujarat Sultanswas Mahmud Begada, whom Mirat-i-Sikandari described as 'the best of all theGujaratikings', due to his justice, benefi-cence andpiety [Bayley 1886(1970): 161].EdaljiDosabhaistatedthatduringthereignof Begada, 'the splendour of Gujaratwasgreatly increased' and that 'even theemperor of Delhi sent him presents, andthus virtually acknowledged Gujaratas aseparate kingdom'[Edalji 1894: 96].NarmadshankarLalshankar, n spite of hisgenerally negativeperceptionof the 'Mus-lim period', considered the time of thisMahmud Begada to be one of the mostglorious periods in Gujarat's past, alongwith the reigns of Jayshikhar and ofShiddhraj [Narmadshankar 1874: 140].It is interesting to compare these ac-counts again with the work of the famous20thcentury writer,K M Munshi. Accor-ding to Munshi, although Muslim histo-rians narrated 'numerous anecdotes re-vealing his [MahmudBegada's]popularitywithhis people', to theHindus, 'one sultanwas asgood, orasbad,as another.' Munshistressed the 'terrorand destruction' underMuslim rulers, which resulted in socialexclusiveness among the people,who 'en-joyed settled existence only when shel-tered behind their castes, mahajanas andpancayats' [Munshi 1935: 112-13]. In thisaccount, the image of prosperity undersome Muslim rulers, which we have seenin late-19th century writings, completelydisappeared.The GujaratSultanate was broughtto anend in 1573 with the conquest of this areaby the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. An ex-tremely favourable image was attributedto 'Akbar the Great' in many of the nar-ratives produced by Gujarati historians.Maganlal Vakhatchandhad no doubt that
among Muslims there was no other kinglike Akbar[Maganlal 1860:61]. NavalramLakshmiramPandya 1836-1888), aNagarBrahmanwriter, n hispoemcalled 'ItihasniArsi' (The Mirror of History), also ex-pressed his high opinion of Akbar's re-gime. According to him, there was 'notyranny,noheavy tax,nopartisanship'andhe treated Hindus equally with Muslims[Parikh 1937: 366]It is evident that in late-19th centuryGujarat, the local elite was conscious ofthestrongmercantile radition n thisregionand its origin in the 'Muslim period'. Italso should be stressed here that in manycontemporary accounts on history, thefollowing 'Marathaperiod' was depictedas the darkestage of all. The AhmedabadMunicipality stated, in its memorial to theBritish government in the 1880s, thatAhmedabadunderMuslimsovereigntywas'one of the finest cities in the world',which was to be later'divested of its richesand splendour' due to the 'decay of thatpower, the raids of the Marathas, thevandalism which accompanied those ex-cursions, and theirgreed when they cameinto thepossession of thedistrict' (Appen-dix to Education CommissionReport1884,II: Memorials 9). Thus, without feelingany contradiction, the Hindu intellectualsarticulated the 'Muslim period' both as atime of economic development and ofcultural decline. There was a tendency,however, to emphasise the decline, a ten-dency which became more pronounced inthenextcentury.Furthermore, omepeoplebegan to develop the idea that the pros-perity in the Muslim era was in fact onlyenjoyed by the ruling class and not by the'people' as a whole (Appendix to Educa-tion Commission Report 1884, II: Memo-rials 9-10). This, in their opinion, made agreatcontrastwithBritishrule,which caredfor 'public welfare', as discussed later.The negative image of the following'Maratha period' seemed to have beenpartly derived from the popular memoryof the Maratha rulers that still survivedamong Gujaratisin the late 19th century.The Britishdescriptionswritten ntheearly19th century enhanced this picture. Forinstance, James Forbes, in his 'OrientalMemoirs' (1813) compared the 'Mogulsplendor'and'Mahratta arbarism' Forbes1813: 120], and concluded:
I shall not attempta detail of the crueloppressionsand mean advantagesof theMahratta pundits and governors, nowdispersed throughoutGuzerat,andoccu-pyingthesemagnificent emainsof Mogulsplendour.Their severe exactions havealready enderedhedistrict fAhmedabad,once so flourishinganddelightful,almosta desert; and thousands of industrioussubjects are annually leaving it, to seek
protection under milder governmentsIForbes 1813: 1531.Among the Gujarati accounts of thisperiod, MaganlalVakhatchanddevoted anentire section in his GujaratDeshno Itihasand Amdalvadno Itihas to enumeratingexamples of tyranny, injustice andexploi-tation by Maratha rulers and their lack ofinterest in reform [Maganlal 1860: 83-
6,1851 (1977): 53-5]. According to him,wealthy people in Ahmedabad evenavoided wearing good clothes, for fear ofdrawing the attention of the Marathaoffi-cers, who looked for anychance of exploi-tation[Maganlal 1851(1977): 54]. Gujaratihistorians often contrasted this image withthat of British rule, which they consideredto have brought much-desired peace andorder to Gujarat.The British were praisedas saviours who had delivered the regionfrom a 'crushing calamity' under theMaratha ulers[Edalji1894:292].The finaloverthrow by the British of the Marathapower in Gujarat, which took place in1818, was even described as the device ofthe 'Almighty' [Edalji 1894: 292]. Need-less to say, this perception among the localelite was partly constructed through theirclose links with the British government,whichtried to legitimise itsrule over India.Yet,atthe sametime,theGujaratihistorians'strong tone of condemnation of Maratharule suggests that it was more thanmerelya wayofappeasingthecolonialgovernment.In the same way, the assessment ofShivaji, the hero of many Maharashtrians,was not necessarily favourable amongGujaratis, due to his plunder of Surat.Observing the movement in the Deccan toraise a fund to repairthe tomb of Shivaji,an Ahmedabadi paper in 1895 wrote:In spite of the attemptsmade some timeago bysome Marathasoshow thatShivajiwas not as bad as he was depicted byhistorians, t mustbe conceded thattherewas utter chaos and confusion underhisrule and that his policy frombeginningtoend was thatof aplunderer. he convictionof the people of Gujaraton this point istoostrong obe overthrownby anyamountofMaratha hetoric.TheMarathas requitewelcome to worshipShivajias a hero and
to look uponthe times in which he flour-ished as a golden epoch and to wish forits revival, but the Gujaratishave a keenmemory of the Maratharaids up to thepresent day.IIThe Gujaratis' judgment of Shivaji,however, was sometimes contradictory.One of the earliest references to Shivajiin Gujaratappearedin a 'poetical compo-sition of one Shair Bansilal' in the late 18thand early 19th century. This depictedShivaji asthe 'Protectorof Cow and Brah-man', while at the same time describinghis plunder of the city of Surat. The poet
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gave 'on the one side the brighterand onthe other the darkerpicture of this event',butfinallyblamedatrocitiesbytheMughalEmperor,Aurangseb,againstwhomShivajifought, for the misfortunes of Surat[Chavdand: 119]. A similarcontradictoryview of Shivaji was expressed also byNarmadshankar Sanjana 1950: 79]. Themixed reactions to Shivaji seem to havearisen mostly from the disparity betweenthe role of Shivaji in the historyof Gujaratand his role in the history of India. Forhigh-caste Hindu Gujaratis, Shivaji can-not be forgiven in the context of Gujaratitself, but in the broad context of Indianhistory, this warrior who challenged the'tyrannical' Muslim emperor, Aurangseb,could still be ahero. As mentioned above,Gujaratiintellectuals in the 19th centurybecame increasingly familiarwith the con-temporary views of Indian history ex-pressed in the writings of British, Bengaliand Maharashtrianwriters. The story ofShivaji and Aurangseb in these writingsmust have affected their perceptions ofthese figures. As a result,while still blam-ing Shivaji for his plunder of Surat, theHindu literati in this region at the sametime began to evaluate his action from analternative viewpoint, namely, the view-point of the history of India.In the 20th century, as the nationalistmovement gained momentum, the tend-ency to glorify Shivaji as an 'Indian' heroseems to have become more pronounced.K M Munshi, a strong advocate of Indiannationalism,forinstance,defended Shivajiand thePeshwas(allof whom, inhiswords.'no doubt, dreamt of a well-governedempire'), by blaming their 'irresponsibleagents'forthe maladministrationnGujarat[Munshi 1935: 207].The 'Britishperiod', which followed the'Marathaperiod', was called 'Ram Rajya'by MaganlalVakhatchand Maganlal 1851(1977): 53, 65]. The Gujaratielite of thelate 19th century often stressed that theBritish had brought safety, prosperity,justice, education, technology and infra-structure,such as railways, the telegraph,printing and sanitary arrangements[Maganlal 1851 (1977): 63-5, Edalji 1894:309] (Appendix toEducationCommissionReport1884,11:Memorials9-10) [Buddhi-prakash 1858: 44]. They contrasted thiswith the previous regimes under whichthere was frequentplunderingandfightingand which paid little attention to publicwelfare.Thus, venatthetimeof theMutinyin 1857, Bholanath Sarabhai 1822-1886),a famous Nagar Brahman social reformerandgovernment servant, prayed to god inhis diary that the matter would be settledquickly, for British rule was, in his opin-ion,farsuperior oanyotherrule[Krshnarao1888:65]. Similarly, Edalji, looking back
on this incident, stated that 'happily' theMutiny extended to Gujarat in 'only aslight degree' [Edalji 1894:258]. Suchardent support for British rule, however,was to wane by the end of the century, aswe will discuss later.IIINotionof GujaratandGujaratisOne of the most strikingaspects in thesenarratives of the history of Gujarat s thegreat significance attributed o the promi-nent mercantile tradition of this region.The following words from a lectureon the'classical poets of Gujarat'by Govardha-nramMadhavramTripathi(1855-1907), awell-known Nagar Brahman writer, areanother good example to illustrate thispoint. He called this region 'a country ofmerchantsandpoets' andstated hatGujarat'always yielded a rich harvest of mer-chants', and thatGujaratiswere 'childrenof industryandenterprise' [Tripathi1894(1958): 49, 561.The Gujarati ntellectuals in the colonialperiod sought to give a new meaning tothis mercantile tradition in order to makeit a respectable marker of their identity.For instance, these people stated openlytheir pride in their capacity to supporteducational institutions and schemes for
public welfare with their own money,thanks to their success in commerce andindustry. They often emphasised thattheyhad been improving their local areas by'self-help' (Appendix to Education Com-mission Report 1884, II: Memorials 9),pointing out examples of their own phil-anthropicactions. Besides, in the colonialcontext, the act of 'money-making' couldsometimes acquire forceful political andideological meanings through the idea of'swadeshi'. One of the earliest examplesin Gujarat where we find this idea isDalpatram's Hunnarkhanni hadhai' TheInvasion of Hunnarkhan,1851), the alle-gorical poem on the impoverishment ofHindustan as a result of the invasion ofHunnarkhan(king industry), the ruler ofVilayat(a foreign country). Dalpatram ik-ened the relationship between contempo-rary England and India to that betweenVilayat and Hindustan. After describingthemiseryof presentHindustan, he authormakes a suggestion about how to revivethis land.Accordingtohim,theonly personwho can save the country is 'Mandalik'(unity), who is now deep in sleep. Whileemphasising the necessity of awakeninghim, Dalpatramurgesthe readersto defeat'Yantrakhan' (machine minister) of thisVilayat, and take over the technology andindustry dominated by foreigners[Dalpatram 1921]. In this poem, restoring
the country was almost equivalent todeveloping commerce and industry.Such an idea of swadeshi seems to havedeveloped in Gujaratalong with the suc-cess of the modern textile industry. Forinstance, from the 1860s, the local elite inAhmedabad themselves took the initiativein founding textile mills based on theWestern model, and the sense of pride intheir success was widely shared amongthem. The following passage from anAhmedabadi newspaper, though pub-lished in the early 20th century, indicatesthe impact that the development of thetextile industry had on their self-image.
Ourreadersare awarethatjute is one ofthestaplearticles f industry ndcommercein Bengal, but the industry s practicallywholly in the hands of the Europeancapitalist.With ardonablepride,we ven-tureto state that if Gujrathadgrown ute,ourGujrati rethren ould haveengrossedthe trademainly or wholly. Our fellow-countrymen of Bengal, thoughundoubt-edly aheadof us in literature nd generalknowledge,haveyettoacquire heaptitudeand means, which go to the making ofsuccessful captains of industry.'2Due to this success of the textile indus-try,a strongconviction was widely sharedby the Gujarati elite that their region, 'acountry of merchants', was now on theway to prosperity and regeneration underBritish rule.Yet. aroundthe turnof thecentury,therewere some who began to question thisvision. They pointed out the obstructiveeffect of the colonialpolicy on theeconomicdevelopment of Gujarat. In particular,confrontation arose over certaineconomicpolicies of the British which were consid-ered to work unfavourably against localindustries, such as the imposition of theexcise duties in the 1890s.13 AmbalalSakarlal Desai (1844-1914), a leading in-tellectual, while speaking on behalf of the'peace-loving and trading population ofGuserat' in the 1902 Indian NationalCongress, did not try to conceal his an-noyance at the imposition of the 'obnox-ious excise duty' (Reportof the 18thIndianNational Congress 1902: 5-6). For peoplelike him, it was no longer certain thattheirregion could keep developing under Brit-ish ruleby remaining only as 'CommercialGuzerat'.The Gujarati elite also became moreattentive to political developments inotherpartsof India. The swadeshi movement inBengal between 1905 and 1908, for in-stance,createdavisibleresponse nGujarat,especially among the youth. In Nadiad, atown in Khedadistrict,IndulalYagnik sawa series of meetings at which 'orators pokeand musicians sang aboutfreeing ourholymotherland romthe bonds of foreignrule'.
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InAhmedabad, heSwadeshiMitraMandal(Friends'Society for Swadeshi) wasfoundedtosupport his movement [Yagnik1955 (1967): 111, 127-28, Spodek, Woodand Pathak n d: 123-4, 140-1]. This re-action of Gujaratiscan be explained fromtheir long association with the concept ofswadeshi and their expectation of eco-nomic advantagefrom this movement. (Infact, swadeshi enthusiasm for indigenouscloth during this time brought a tangiblebenefit to the textile industry in Mumbaiand Ahmedabad [Sarkar 1983: 132].) Atthe same time, however, theirsupport forthemovementalso indicatesamajorchangewhich was taking place in the Gujaratiperception of British rule. Now, the ideaof developing industryandcommerce, andthus developing the country itself underthe British government, began to lose itscharm, particularly among the youngergeneration. Observing political activitiesin otherpartsof India,young intellectualsin Gujaratbegan to search for a new wayof defining Gujarat as something morethanjust 'acountryof merchantsandpoets',peace-loving, homely and religious, asillustrated by Govardhanram Tripathi[Tripathi 1894 (1958): 56]. This changeseems to have formedone of the importantcontexts of Gandhi's rise to power in thisregion from the late 1910s.
IVConclusionThis paper has shown that the way inwhich the late-19thcenturyGujarati ntel-lectuals narratedheirregional history wasclosely linked with the notion of Gujaratiidentity that they wished to establish.Although the local literati were highlydependentonBritish sourcesfortheframe-workof writinghistoryas well as for actualinformation, they adopted these elementsonly selectively. The impact of the Britishaccounts upon their narratives thereforecertainly had a clear limit.Thus, whatever view A K Forbes had,
Gujarati writers, in many cases, did notdepict the 'Muslimperiod' as acompletelydarkage. They were too conscious of thestrong mercantile traditionof this region,anditsorigin in the 'Muslimperiod'. Thus,thoughthe Gujaratiwriters often glorifiedthe ancient 'Hindu period' and contrastedthis with the cultural decline in the sub-sequent 'Muslimera', theydescribedat thesame time the prosperity of this regionunder hereignsof AhmadShah, MahmudBegada and Akbar.'The Gujarati ntellectuals, in theircon-struction of regional identity, consciouslyplacedthe mercantile raditionat its centre.Furthermorethey sought to project it asa respectable identity-marker hroughthe
idea of swadeshi. According to this rheto-ric, involvement in commerce andindustrynow no longer meant simply money-making,butwas apartof a broader chemeof developing the country.The late-19th century notion of Gujaratand the Gujaratiscontinued to be influen-tial throughout hefollowing periods. Yet,at the same time, we should also note thatnew regional symbols kept emerging. Forinstance, from the early 20th century.Gandhi himself andthe nationalist move-ment under his leadership became deeplyintegrated into the notion of Gujaratihis-tory and identity. K M Munshi stated in1935 that Gujaratwas 'no longer the landof commerce andindustryonly', for it wasnow 'the land of MahatmaGandhi,as onceit was of Sri Krshna' [Munshi 1935: 1]14The fact thatGandhi stressed his Gujaratiidentity on several occasions encouragedthis process. For instance, he choseAhmedabad for the site of his SatyagrahaAshram in 1915 for the reasons he ex-plained in his autobiography: 'I had pre-dilection for Ahmedabad.Being aGujaratiI thought I should be able to render thegreatest service to the country throughtheGujarati language' [Gandhi 1927 (1992):4611.15 During the periods of the non-cooperation movement and civil dis-obedience movement, the Gujarati iden-tity of Gandhi contributed to his gainingstrong support from a wide range of thepopulation in this region. We should re-member here that, before the rise of theGandhian movement, Gujarat had neverbecome thefocus of all-Indiapolitics. Now,a large number of people in this regionbegan to participate in political activitieson an unprecedentedscale for the 'honourof Gujarat'as well as for the interests ofIndia. Here, through Gandhi and hissatyagraha, Gujarati identity overlappedwith Indian nationalism. This seems tohave brought about a significant changein the identity-formation of the Gujaratis,though further investigation is necessaryto understand this process.16With the present situation in Gujarat, tseems especially important to look backon the recent past to understand howregional history and identity were articu-lated by the intellectuals of different pe-riods and contexts, and how specific per-ceptions became dominant over othersthrough educational institutions, leadingliteraryassociations andthepress.Also weshould not forget that there were alwaysattempts by some sections of the popula-tion in this region to present alternativenotions of history and identity, whichdiffered from the dominant discourse.Although these alternativediscourses werenot fully independent of the dominantdiscourseandwere nmanycases intricately
linked to it, they nevertheless vividlydemonstrate that there is no uniform andfixed perception of any event or indi-vidual in history. The ideas that the wayto imagine the past can be varied and thatwriting a history is in a sense always anact of construction are hardly new. It stillseems necessarytokeep emphasisingtheseideas, however, in the context of contem-porary Gujarat, where some sections ofsociety, supportedby political groups,havebeen trying to impose their constructionof regional history and identity on otherswith violence, and deny any alternativeperception. [31Address for correspondence:[email protected]
NotesI EdaljiDosabhai was a student of the Englishschool in the city when he wrote this book[Edalji 1850: Preface]. He later joined thegovernmentervice,andwaseventuallypostedto Ahmedabadas the deputy collector (TheTimes of Inldia,June 17, 1894, educationaldepartment, ol 47, no542, MaharashtratateArchives).2 Maganlal Vakhatchandwas a visa shrimaliJain who was educatedin tile Englishschoolin Ahmedabad.He playedan importantrolein educational nd iteraryircles,andheldpostsas the assistantmasterof the Englishschooland the assistant ecretary f theGujarat erna-cular ociety.Later e oined hebanking usinessandcotton ndustry.Maganlal1851 (1977)].3 MahipatramRupramwas a Nagar Brahminfrom Surat.Having finishedhis education atthegovernmentvernacularchool andEnglishschool, he later shiftedto Bombayand oinedthe ElphinstoneInstitute there. In 1857, two
yearsafterhe oined heeducational epartment,he was appointedas acting headmasterof agovernment chool in Ahmedabadand subse-quentlybecameadeputy ducationalnspector.As the principalof the training college inGujarat (from 1862), as the editor of themonthly ournalentitledGujaratShalaqatra,andastheGujaratiranslatorn theeducationaldepartment,econtinuedo bedeeplyassociatedwith educational activities in Gujarat Raval1987: 127-34][Parekh1935 II: 92-117].4 The Gujarati translation of RarsMala byRanchhodbhaiUdayaram was published in1869.RasMalawas oftencomparedwithJamesTod'sAnnalsandAntiquities f RajastlhanlndGrant Duff's A Historyof itheMahrattas.5 Mirat-i-Alhmadiwas the Persian chroniclewrittenby Ali MuhamadKhan,the diwanofGujarat, n 1762. The early sections of thisbook were based on the account of Mirat-i-Sikandari, niotherersian hronicle omposedaround heearly 17thcenturyby SikandarbinMuhamad,who served he Bukhari aidfamilyinGujarat.Fordetails,see [Bird1834][Bayley1886 (1970)] [Lokhandwala1965].6 The firstpartof thisgazetteer,'EarlyHistoryof Gujarat',waswrittenby Bhagvanlal ndrajiwith the help o' A M T Jackson.The secondpart, MusalmanPeriod',wasprepared yJ WWatson,with additionsby FazlullahLutfullahFaridi.The thirdand forthsections('MarathaPeriod' and 'Gujarat Disturbances') werewritten by J A Baines and L R Ashburnerrespectively [Gazetteer1896].7 His GujaratnoPrachin ItilhasandGujaratno
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Arvachin tihas werepublished n 1898by theGujaratvernacular ociety [Desai 1898].8 On thenotionof theGujaratianguageamonglate 19thcentury Gujarati iterati,see Isaka2002.9 On the Hindu elite contribution to Persianliterature in Gujarat, see Quraishi 1972:237-9. The language of the court had beenPersianduringthe Mughal period,and evensome sectionsof high-casteHindu iterati uchasbrahmins(especiallyagarBrahmins),ayas-thas and brahmakshatriyas rote in Persian[Divatia1921 1993):45-6] [Nayak1954,1955].10 For recent analysis of Munshi's novel,GujaratnoNath, see, forinstance,Desai2002,Skaria2001: 276-7.11 Hitechchhu,November7, 1895, in ReportonNative Papers (Bombay Presidency),November9, 1895, p 17.12 Praja Bandhu,January20, 1907, p 1.13 For details, see Chandra 1966: 238.14 Inthisregard,t is worthmentioning hatsomeplaces related to Gandhi and the nationalistmovementbecame new pilgrimage sites forGujaratis.15 We shouldnotehere hatGandhiwasoriginallyfromkathiawad,whichgreatlydiffered fromthe region around Ahmedabad, in variousaspects including language, literature andhistory.Yet, it was his Gujarati dentity,nothis kathiawadiidentity, that Gandhi foundmore important nd meaningful n his socialand public activities.16 Another moment when significant changeseems to have taken place in this identityformationwasaround1960, whenthepresentGujarat tate was createdas a separatestatefrom Maharashtra.At this time, mainlandGujarat ndkathiawad othbecame ntegratedinto this new state.For the politicalaspectofthe integration f these two parts nto Gujaratstate, see Wood 1972.
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Bombay II (1884): Calcutta.Bayley, EdwardClive (1886, repr. 1970): TheLocal Muhammadan Dynasties: Gujarat,S Chand and Co, New Delhi.Bayly, C A (1996): Empire and Information:Intelligence Gathering and Social Col-munication n India, 1780-1870, CambridgeUniversityPress, Cambridge.Bird, James (tr ed) (1834): History of Gujarat,RichardBentley, London.Buddhiprakash,March, 1858.Chandra,Bipan(1966): The Rise and GrowthofEconomic Nationalism in India: EconomicPoliciesof IndianNationalLeadership,1880-1905, People's PublishingHouse,New Delhi.Chandra, udhir 1992): TheOppressivePresent:LiteraturendSocialConsciousnessnColonialIndia,OxfordUniversityPress,New Delhi.Chatterjee,Partha(1993): The Nation and ItsFragments: Colonial and PostcolonialHistories, rincetonUniversityPress,Princeton.- (1994): 'Claims on the Past;The Genealogyof ModernHistoriographynBengal'inDavidArnoldand David Hardiman eds), SubalternStudies VIII,Oxford University Press, NewDelhi, pp 1-49.Chavda,Vijay Singh(n d):ModernGujarat,NewOrder,Ahmedabad.Commissariat.M S (1922): 'A Brief HistoryoftheGujarat ultanate', ournalof theBombayBranch f le RoyalAsiaticSocietyXXV,LXXI.Dalpatram, Dahyabhai (1921): HunnarkhanniChadhai (14th edn), Gujarat VarnakyularSosaiti, Amdavad.Desai, GovindbhaiHathibhai 1898): Gujaratno
ArvachinItihas,GujaratVarakyular Sosaiti,Amdavad.Desai, Meghnad (2002): 'Gujarat and ItsBhasmita',Seminar,513, May, pp 56-57.Divatia,N B (1921repr1993):GujaratiLanguageand Literature,Asian EducationalServices,New Delhi.Edalji,Dosabhai 1850):Gujaratnoltihas,GujaratVarnakyularSosaiti, Amdavad.- ( 894):AHistoryof Gujarat:From heEarliestPeriod to the Present Time, Ahmedabad.Forbes,A K (1856): Ras Mala: HindooAnnlalsof the Provinceof Goozerat n westernIndia,RichardsonBrothers,London.Forbes, ames 1813):OrientalMemoirs, II,White,Cochrane,and Co, London.Gandhi,MK, rbyMahadevDesai 1927,reprl992):AnlAutobiography r theStoryof MyExperi-nmentswith Truth,Navajivan,Ahmedabad.Gazetteerof the BombayPresidency, I-I, Historyof Gujarat(1896): Bombay.Isaka,Riho (2002): 'Languageand Dominance:TheDebatesover theGujaratiLanguage ntheLate19thCentury', outhAsia XXV,1,ppl-19.- (2002): 'The Perception of the LiteraryTradition f Gujaratn the Late 19thcentury',Jolurnal of theJapaneseAssociation or SouthAsian Studies, 14 (forthcoming).Kaviraj,Sudipta(1995): The UnhappyConscio-iusness: BankimchandraChattopadhyayandthe Formation of Nationalist Discourse inIndia, Oxford UniversityPress, New Delhi.Krshnarao, Bholanath (1888): BholanathSarabhainunrivancharit, Mumbai.Lokhandwala,M F (tr) (1965): Mirat-i-Ahmadi:A Persian History of Gujarat, EnglishTranslation,OrientalInstitute,Baroda.Maganlal,Vakhatchand1860): GujaratDeshnoItilias,GujaratVarnakyularosaiti,Amdavad.- (1977): Anmdavadno Itihas, GujaratVidyasabha,Amdavad.Mukta,Parita(1997): 'Lamentand Power:TheSubversion and Appropriation of Grief.Studies in History', 13,2, pp 209-46.Munshi,K M(1935):GujarataandItsLiterature:A Surveyfrom he EarliestTimnes,ongmans,
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Letters to editor(Continued from p 4750)it is to be useful...marxists who make afetish of formulas are simply playingthe fool with marxism."Chandra does not find Gramsci'scontribution to marxism significant inthe sense of extending the rule ofcapital to the social and culturaldomain. But we are indebted toAntonio Gramsci for liberating themarxist discourse from economism.One interesting point to be noted inthis context is that British marxistscholars had an aversion to Grtmsci'swritings till the mid-1950s (DavidForgacs, 'Gramsc4 and Marxism inBritain', New Left Review, No 1761989). Almost at the end of his lifeEngels was shocked to find economicdeterminism in the writings of youngermarxists. And he expressed his anguishin a letter to Joseph Bloch in 1890:
Marx and I are ourselvespartlyto blamefor the fact that the younger peoplesometimes lay more stress on theeconomic side than is due to it. Wehad to emphasise the main principlevis-a-vis our adversaries,who deniedit, and we had not always the time, theplace or the opportunity o give theirdue to the other factors involved in theinteraction.Chandra wants to go back to Marxfor intellectual guidance without takinginto account the historical and socialcontext of his writings. This is nothingbut marxist fundamentalism. In the
present crisis of marxism, we shouldbid farewell to the grand narrative ofofficial marxism and read Marx withan open mind. ARUPKUMARENCalcutta
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