Professor Dwijendra Narayan Jha passed away on 4 February 2021 after going through a prolonged illness. The eminent historian had retired from the University of Delhi as chair of the Department of History where he had taught Ancient Indian History.
Jha was a graduate in history from the famous Presidency College, Kolkata and did his post-graduation from Patna University. DN Jha got his academic training under the legendary historian RS Sharma.
HIS WORKS AND CONTROVERSIES
In his 30 years long career, Prof Jha worked to dispel the communal reading of historical facts. Prof Jha is most noted for his works on challenging the notion of the Gupta age being a ‘Golden Age’ and his book The Myth of the Holy Cow. He prepared a document challenging the then prevalent narrative about the Babri Masjid with three other historians in 1991. Many of his works such as those mentioned above have embroiled him in political controversy, mostly while facing flak from the right-wing.
Apart from writing specialized works, he also worked on textbooks of history. Many such as Ancient India: In Historical Outline and Early India: A Concise History are a staple for first-year undergraduate history students at the University of Delhi. He was also involved with various NCERT books.
STATEMENTS FROM OTHER HISTORIANS
Harbans Mukhia, a noted Historian who taught at JNU in a statement to the Indian Express said that ‘He was a stickler for historical facts, for empirical evidence. He wouldn’t make any statement without a sound empirical basis. Because of his empiricism, he was constantly challenging what he would call the distortions of Indian history.’
Historian Audrey Trushke was one of the first from the academic community to break out the news of DN Jha’s demise to the world
Rest in Power, Professor DN Jha.
Professor Jha was a fearless and fierce historian. He paved the way for many to follow. Professor Jha was also a true devotee of knowledge and a pleasure to be around. He will be sorely missed.
May we build on and carry on his legacy. pic.twitter.com/3RYHCN1Kew
— Dr. Audrey Truschke (@AudreyTruschke) February 4, 2021