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  • Anup Kumar

    This is an excellent essay on the state of historical study of India and the Subcontinent by one of the doyens of history. It should be read by all students of history and other social sciences. My only fear is that it will not be read critically. We tend to revere scholars rather than use their writings to develop our own path of critical inquiry. There is much here that requires critical reading. It is the beginning of a new discourse. On a side note, I will quibble with the translation of ‘nastika’. Unbeliever is a mundane translation and not appropriate for a scholarly essay. In its proper context, I would suggest that ‘nastika’ has nothing to do with ‘belief’; it is a starting epistemological position in Indian philosophical inquiry. An ‘astik’ epistemological position is about holding to the primacy of Vedic axiomatic observations about the physical and metaphysical; whereas, ‘nastik’ is a philosophical position that does not accept axiomatic status of Vedas. One could be an atheist and still be in ‘astik’ systems such as Mimamsaks and Vaisheshiks. And vice versa in Nastik systems like Charvak, Jain and Baudhha.

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