Upfront and Personal

Without Dharmanand Kosambi (1876–1947) there could have been no D D Kosambi in more than just the procreational sense. The unique characteristics- and indeed character- of Kosambi père moulded that of his son as surely his wanderlust did, taking him from Goa to Banaras, to Sikkim and Burma, barefoot and hungry, and eventually to Harvard, where Kosambi fils would have his defining education...

And now the sociologist Meera Kosambi, his granddaughter, has translated his autobiographical writings from the Marathi. Nivedan: The autobiography of Dharmanand Kosambi is published by Permanent Black who also recently brought out  Dharmanand Kosambi: The essential writings,  a collection of his  writings that was translated by Meera Kosambi: see our post on that book).

Dharmanand Kosambi came under the spell of the Buddha’s teachings during his adolescence. At an early age he set off on an incredible journey of austere self-training across the length and breadth of Britain’s Indian Empire, halting to educate himself at places connected with Buddhism.

His sojourns included living in Sri Lanka to master Pali, in a Burmese cave as a bhikshu, and in some viharas of North India—begging for monastic sustenance—as well as in Nepal and Sikkim which he reached after arduous, sometimes barefoot, treks. Over these itinerant years Dharmanand acquired such mastery of the Buddhist canon that he was variously appointed to teach and research at Calcutta, Baroda, Harvard, and Leningrad. 

As a thinker Dharmanand blended Buddhist ethics, Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of truth and non-violence, and the ideals of socialism. He exchanged letters with the Mahatma, worked for his causes, and died in the approved Buddhist/Jain manner by voluntary starvation at Sevagram ashram. Arguably, no Indian scholar’s life has been as exemplary as Dharmanand’s, or has approximated as closely to the nobility and saintliness of the Mahatma’s. 

The book has, in addition, a scholarly introduction by Meera Kosambi that puts the life, career and achievements of her grandfather in context.  

In our Biography, and Indian Literature in Translation sections,  in paperback, 204 pages, Rs 295. ISBN: 9788178243252

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