Ram Sharan Sharma

Indian historian and Indologist (1919–2011)

Ram Sharan Sharma (26 November 1919 – 20 August 2011), commonly referred to as R. S. Sharma, was a historian and academic of Ancient and early Medieval India.

Quotes edit

  • For their riches the monasteries came to be coveted by the Turkish invaders. They became special targets of the invaders’ greed. The Turks killed a large number of Buddhist monks in Nalanda, although some of the monks managed to escape to Nepal and Tibet.
    • R.S. Sharma, Ancient India, NCERT, New Delhi, 1996, p. 112.
  • We find that in the beginning every religion is inspired by the spirit of reform, but eventually it succumbs to rituals and ceremonies it originally denounced. Buddhism underwent a similar metamorphosis. It became a victim to the evils of brahmanism against which it had fought in the beginning.
    • Quoted from Arun Shourie (2014) Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud. HarperCollins.
  • It is also true that the present Ayodhya is the same old Ayodhya...It is also true that it is found from the sources of Jain religion that Saket and Ayodhya are the same, It is also true that at many places, Lord Rama has been referred to as Koshal Naresh (king of Koshal)
    • quoted from Mennakshi Jain, Battle for Rama page 82.
  • From the seventh century A.D. onwards the Bhakti cult spread throughout the country, and especially in the south. Bhakti meant that people made all kinds of offerings to the god in return for which they received the prasada or the favour of the god. It meant that the devotees completely surrendered to their God. This practice can be compared to the complete dependence of the tenants on the land-owners.
    • R.S. Sharma, Ancient India, NCERT: New Delhi, p.194.
  • Obviously tantricism arose as a result of the large-scale admission of the aboriginal peoples in brahmanical society.
    • Sharma, R.S. Ancient India, NCERT, (First edition 1990, reprint 1995), p. 194.
  • Tribal rituals, charms, and symbols […] were distorted by the brahmanas (sic) and priests to serve the interests of rich patrons.
    • Sharma, R.S. Ancient India, NCERT, (First edition 1990, reprint 1995), p. 194.
  • The Study of ancient Indian history, therefore, is relevant not only to those who want to understand the true nature of the past that some people want to relive but also to those who want to appreciate the nature of obstacles that hamper the development of the country.
    • Ancient India by R.S. Sharma

Ramjanmabhumi Babri Masjid : A Historians’ Report to the Nation edit

  • People will be surprised to find that the V.H.P. has been unable to cite any ancient Sanskrit text in support of its claim that there has been an ancient Hindu belief in Ram Janma-sthãna at Ayodhya. Surely, if there were such a strong belief there would have been numerous Vaishnavite texts exhorting worshippers to visit the spot. The absence of any such reference makes it very dubious that the belief in Ram Janma-sthãna is of such respectable antiquity as is being made out. It is even doubtful if it is earlier than the late eighteenth century, as we shall see.
    • quoted in Kishore, Kunal (2016). Ayodhyā revisited. ch 2.

Quotes about Ram Sharan Sharma edit

  • From his high pedestal, Prof. Sharma could afford to disregard the 'very few authors whose work effectively addresses the feudalism thesis in a critical manner', and he 'appears to have been in no mood to take heed of criticism levelled at his work'. This disregarding and ignoring of counter-evidence is tactically the best way to prolong your dominant position (which is why this tactic was adopted by most secularists in the Ayodhya debate): it denies publicity and respectability to the critic's alternative thesis. But to the progress of science, this upholding of dogma and suppression of debate is detrimental.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Ayodhya and After: Issues Before Hindu Society (1991)
  • In the late Sixties and early Seventies, historical research got entangled in the larger politics of the state in which the Congress under Indira Gandhi and the Communist Party of India found themselves on the same wave length. The establishment of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 1969 under the chairmanship of Prof. R. S. Sharma was largely the result of this politics. Besides being an eminent scholar, Prof. Sharma's sympathy for the Left ideology in general and for the CPI in particular was well-known. His close association with the then Education Minister and CPI sympathiser, Nurul Hasan, was common knowledge. During his chairmanship, there were allegations from many historians that ICHR was being used for propagating history from a Marxist standpoint. The nexus between ICHR and NCERT was also mentioned in the same vein. [….] During the Emergency, people watched with dismay the camaraderie between the Congress and the CPI and in that context the role played by the Left historians was not overlooked. [….] At the micro- level, it was the Left-oriented historians versus the rest. [….] The battle apparently looked like one between ‘secular’ and `communal’ historians but behind the facade was the realpolitik of the Congress and the CPI, on the one hand, and the Janata bandwagon, on the other.
    • Ghosh, Partha S. “The Rewriting of History”, The Hindu, July 15, 1998.
  • Sharma had “tried to place Indian history [….] in an alien framework”, and secondly, that the textbook writer had “given … wrong data and also suppressed some vital information... Page after page and paragraph after paragraph [showed] something extremely shocking. Data which do not exist. Informations which are wholly or are partially wrong. Facts which are disputed. Theories which are outdated. Chronology which no serious scholar would accept. Terms which are not in vogue. Sociological and cultural interpretations of archaeological data without giving due regard to the inherent limitations of the data themselves. Maps which are not organically related to the text. Absence of several vital facts and epoch- making discoveries.
    • Gupta, S.P. Comments on Prof. R.S. Sharma’s ‘Ancient India’, “Panel Discussion held on 12th December, 1977, at India International Center Lodi Estate, New Delhi”, National Museum, Delhi: 1978. also in Rosser, Yvette Claire (2003). Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. University of Texas at Austin.
  • Besides history, Prof. R.S.S. loves politics, equally, if not more.
    • S.P. Gupta “A Critique of R.S. Sharma’s In Defence of “Ancient India’”, printed by the National Museum, New Delhi. also quoted in Rosser, Yvette Claire (2003). Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. University of Texas at Austin.
  • R.S. Sharma's whose Indian Feudalism has misguided virtually all historians of the period, not only because it it entirely written from the a priori assumption of the 'dark age', doggedly searching for point by point parallels with Europe, but also, ... because there has never been anything to challenge it... Sharma has repeated his views innumerable times - almost verbatim often, and hardly developing them... Sharma's thesis "involves an obstinate attempt to find 'elements' which fit a preconceived picture of what should have happened in India because it happened in Europe (or is alleged to have happened in Europe by Sharma and his school of historians whose knowledge of European history is rudimentary and completely outdated) or because of the antiquated Marxist scheme of a ‘necessary’ development of ‘feudalism’ out of ‘slavery’. The methodological underpinnings of Sharma's work are in fact so thin that one wonders why, for so long, Sharma's colleagues have called his work 'pioneering. It generated a spate of ‘feudalism studies’, elaborat­ing Sharma’s thesis, differing perhaps on minor points, as the case maybe, and critical here and there of ‘the inadequacy of the data’, but remaining variations on a theme....
    There are, as indicated before, a very few authors whose work effec­tively addresses the feudalism thesis in a critical manner... Sharma, for one, appears to have been in no mood to take heed of criticism levelled at his work. Under the impact of the feudalism thesis the historiography of the period is still in utter disarray.
    • Wink, A. (1991) Al- Hind: the Making of the Indo-Islamic World. Brill. Volume I.

External links edit

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