Professor DN Jha, who passed away on February 4, 2020, at the age of 81, was not only a fine scholar and eminent historian, but also a human being with finer sensibilities of courage, conviction and wisdom. These sensibilities are illustrated in his pioneering academic contributions detailing the pressing social, political and economic crisis and concerns impacting the survival and subsistence of the ordinary and common. It is with this regard in his mind that he produced academic literature shaping and structuring our abilities to comprehend and contextualise the rhetorics and rebellions of the pure present.
Jha always used to take the extra mile and dig deeper into communal history misrepresented with purpose, pride and propaganda. He was always up against such techniques and tactics, opposing them gracefully till his last breath. He lived his rank and role by mentoring impressionist minds with empirical evidences of involvement, interrogation and investigation, enriching their quality. He believed in engaging with facts consciously and creatively, and not fiction when it came to skillfully portraying Hindu society in ancient times.
He talked about how the so-called enlightened Hindu castes used to sacrifice cow during yagya in the Vedic period. Regressive right-wingers indulged in issuing threats and sermons to DN Jha for withdrawing his book The Myth of the Holy Cow, which contained references to Hindus performing animal sacrifices around yagyas to please their Kul devtas.
Later, showcasing his scholarly commitment by daring communalism and fanaticism at its face, he disregarded the existence of the Ram Temple on the site where once stood the magnificent Babri Mosque. Jha’s findings against that of the Archaeological Survey of India were sincerely refused by the Court to be entertained, classifying his academic findings as mere “opinions”.
This, however, never deterred Jha from discovering and devising his intellect on themes requiring debate and dialogue. He was someone who never allowed himself to be swayed by conclusions and consensus, but rather worked towards persuasion. He was a generous and gentle human being who had no remorse in speaking against the bitter realities of society — be it the fanatical anarchy of the majority or the separatist secessionism of the minority. Jha stood against violence and hooliganism of one or the other kind. We all are going to fondly remember for his spirit, stand and stance.
May the almighty bless the noble soul.