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‘Kosambi felt atomic energy is a miserable superstition’

Published On : 04 Jul 2016   |  Reported By : Canaranews Network

Manipal: More than 50 years back, multi-faceted scholar Prof DD Kosambi meticulously argued in favour of solar energy as against atomic energy even while working with nuclear scientist Homi Bhabha; Prof Kosambi also came up with many fresh insights on ancient India and Vedic age with his in-depth anthropological approach, the speakers pointed out in a seminar organized to commemorate the 50th death anniversary of scientist-turned-historian Prof D D Kosambi held here in Manipal University.

The seminar was organised under the auspices of Centre for Gandhian and Peace Studies, Manipal University in association with Centre for Vedic and Linguistic Inquiry, Manipal on Saturday.

Recalling his memories and association with both Kosambi and Bhabha, Prof K P Rao, founder-director, Centre for Vedic and Linguistic Inquiry, Manipal, said Kosambi was then itself quite concerned about ‘rise in temperature’ of the world either by nuclear energy or burning coal; it was his hope that sun being the ‘natural source of energy’ was the way forward. On this point, he parted ways with Bhabha in Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Citing from Kosambi’s elaborate essay on atomic energy, Prof Rao said, Kosambi wondered whether it is not a ‘miserable superstition’ which calls for sacrifice of millions of humans and animals to atomic tests and radio-active fallout. Nuclear process, which is also the source of energy in Sun, is suitable there – not on earth. Responding to the view that Kosambi was a Marxist, Prof Rao said – if this is Marxism, then Marxists are welcome.

Speaking on Kosambi’s contribution to history, Prof Surendra Rao, former Professor of History, Mangalore University, said Kosambi did make use of Marxsist notions of history; but he was not reductionist. He considered himself a Marxist, but ‘ official Marxists’ did not consider him as a Marxist. In this context, the differences between Kosambi and S A Dange are worth-noting, he pointed out.

A historian is one who looks at the present rooted in the past. Myth is a different order of reality. Socialism will not be redundant so long as there is socio-economic injustice. In his ‘Exasperating Essays’ and ‘Myth and Reality’, Kosambi was precisely trying make use of this perspective. Eminent historians such as Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib, have profusely acknowledged his contribution to history, Prof Surendra Rao added.

Speaking on Prof Prabhaker Acharya’s essay on Kosambi’s thesis with regard to Urvasi myth of Rgveda, Prof Varadesh Hiregange, Director, Gandhian and Peace Studies, Manipal University, said Kosambi’s approach to Rgveda was anthropological. With his reading of different ancient cultures, he concluded that Urvasi-Pururavas myth connected with the primitive rite of husband sacrifice.

Primitive rite is never erased from racial memory. Pururavas is to be sacrificed after begetting a son from Urvasi. In fact, Kalidasa’s ‘Vikramorvasiyam’, which is based on Urvasi-Pururavas episode, is a classic example of the genre of drama, having its origin in the practice of rituals, he pointed out from the essay.

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