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Indian His

Indian His

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Published by rnairdivya

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Published by: rnairdivya on Aug 14, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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IN the revision, I had expected to learn a greatdeal more than has actually been possible from reviews by professionalhistorians. The paramount importance of field work in the study of Indian history seems altogether to have escaped their attention. Suchwork in the field falls into three inter-related classes : archaeology,anthropology, and philology. All three need some preliminary knowledgeof local conditions, the ability to master local dialects, and to gain theconfidence of tribesmen as well as peasants. In all field work, it isnecessary to develop a technique and critical method during the courseof the investigation itself. Fitting observations into rigid, preconceivedmoulds is ruinous. The technique of asking the right questions in the proper way cannot be taught nor mastered except in the field.Whatever transport is used to reach any given locality, the actualfjeld work can only be done on foot.Field archaeology differs from site archaeology in ,that the amountof digging is negligible, but the ground covered extensive. The oneindispensable tool is a stout staff with a chisel ferrule for prying artifactsout of the surface, used as a measuring and sighting rod, &c ; it serves alsoto discourage the more ambitious village dogs and the occasionalmarauder. The collection of surface finds, tracing of ancient routes, andcollation with local cults, myths, and legends is a main task. Digging in
carefully chosen spots may be a consequence, and will then give thegreatest amount of information at minimuhi expense. The actualtechnique developed by O. G. S. Crawford for England in his fine book 
 Archaeology in the Field 
cannot be transferred to Indianterritory.Similarly, the standard patterns of sociological inquiry and of the
 Enquete Lingudstique
cannot be utilized here without considerableand constantly shifting modifications. Many of us dream of a mobile basecompletely equipped with cameras and dark room, tape-recorders,anthroponaetric and blood-group laboratory and the like. Properlyhandled; there is ntf reason why this should not produce excellentresults. In general, however, a fancy outfit without some other ostensible and attractive purpose (say a travelling medical unit) servesonly to defeat the field worker’s aim by exciting cupidity or suspicion,and eliciting copious misinformation.On the other hand, there is no substitute for work in the field for the restoration of pre-literate history. This extends to all historical periods for any country like India where written sources are so meagreand defective while local variations are indescribably numerous.
THIS book does not pretend to be a history of India. It is merely a modernapproach to the study of Indian history, written in the hope that readers may beimpelled to study that history for themselves. or at least be enabled to look at thecountry with greater sympathy and understanding. To this end, the examplesgiven have been intensive rather than extensive, from my own (necessarilyrestricted) experience and reading. They are the simplest examples, such asanyone could derive from honest field-work, though each of them illustratessome general point. Better illustrations may undoubtedly be found by the reader from the lives and manners of his own neighbours, and the remains of antiquity inhis particular locality. Going over to the common people is not easy work.Psychological barriers raised by many generations of the grimmest poverty andexploitation are strengthened by the heat, dust or mud, and unhygienicconditions. But, properly done, the task can nevertheless be exhilarating even for one whose patience has worn thin and whose joints have stiffened painfully withage. Such field-work has to be performed with critical insight, taking nothing for granted, or on faith, but without the attitude of superiority, sentimental reformism,or spurious leadership which prevents most of us from learning anything exceptfrom bad textbooks.The subtle mystic philosophies, tortuous religions, ornate literature,monuments teeming with intricate sculpture, and delicate music of India all

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