ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Peasants and Their Interlocutors

Culture, Vernacular Politics, and the Peasants: India, 1889–1950: An edited translation of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati’s Mera Jivan Sangharsh (My Life Struggle), Walter Hauser, Kailash Chandra Jha (translated and ed), New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2015; pp xliv + 708, ₹ 2,295.

My Life Struggle: A Translation of Swami Sahjanand Saraswati’s Mera Jivan Sangharsh, Walter Hauser and Kailash Chandra Jha (translator and ed), Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2018; pp 434, ₹ 995.

The Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha 1929–1942: A Study of an Indian Peasant Movement, Walter Hauser (Foreword by William Pinch), Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2019; pp 265, ₹ 1,495.

Few unpublished doctoral dissertations may have been cited as frequently as that of Walter Hauser titled “The Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha 1929-1942: A Study of an Indian Peasant Movement.” For decades, this dissertation has been referred to by students of agrarian history and peasant politics, thanks to its two copies having been made available by the author at the A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. The dissertation, completed in 1960 at the University of Chicago, has finally been published with a foreword by William R Pinch, an eminent historian of Indian peasants’ religio-ascetic universe and one of Hauser’s students (Hauser 2019; Pinch 1996, 2008). For Hauser, who passed away on 1 June 2019, his doctoral work heralded a lifelong scholarly commitment to the world of Bihar peasants, and more importantly to the life and legacy of one of their tallest leaders, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati. This commitment and labour of love reached fruition in the publications of edited translations of Swami’s Hindi memoir Mera Jivan Sangharsh in two avatars: Culture, Vernacular Politics and the Peasants: India: 1889-1950 (Hauser and Jha 2015) and My Life Struggle: A Translation of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati’s Mera Jivan Sangharsh (Hauser and Jha 2018).

The former is an extensively researched volume with meticulous contextual endnotes, placing the life and activism of Swami in the context of his times and academic scholarship in general, and the latter is for the express purpose of making Swami’s memoir accessible to the wider reading public. Given that such well-produced volumes were already in existence, one fails to understand the need for yet another translation of Swami’s memoir by another publisher (Pradhan 2019). But then the publishing market has its own logic, and we should, in any case, appreciate the increasing salience of Swami’s work in our post-everything and decolonising times.

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Updated On : 15th Jul, 2020
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