Immensely rich and diverse documentation for the region have resulted in exceptional growth in the research conducted on the history of medieval Rajasthan. Professor Dilbagh Singh has been one of the pioneers to explore archival documents of the different principalities of Rajasthan in his research and under his guidance, generations of researchers have been able to integrate archival documentation with extraordinary literary works available on that region. This collection of essays encapsulates recent trends in exploring the history of Rajasthan envisioning medieval Rajasthan as not just the present geographical spread of the state but situating it within the larger landscape extending up to Central Asia. Most of the essays in this volume are interdisciplinary in nature, dealing, on the one hand, with the interactions between society, polity and religion, and, on the other, the significance of climate variability and the human capacity for adaptations. A set of essays deals with the fluidity of identities of communities visible in religious affairs and in matrimonial alliances. Revisiting the History of Medieval Rajasthan, thus offers fresh perspectives on the history of the region even while it re-examines the conventional narratives of the history of medieval Rajasthan.
Dr Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj teaches history at Modal Nehru College, University of Delhi. His research interests include agrarian history and the history of community identity formation in medieval India. He is the author of the highly acclaimed monograph, Contestations and Accommodations: Mewat, and Meos in Mughal India (2016). Bhardwaj's forthcoming monograph from Primus Books is titled State and Peasant Society in Medieval North India: Essays on Changing Contours of Mewat, Thirteenth to Eighteenth Century.
Rameshwar Prasad Bahuguna is Professor of Medieval Indian History at the Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. His research interests focus on the formation of Sant-based religious communities during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He has, to his credit, numerous papers on these themes and has co-edited a volume of essays entitled Negotiating Religion: Perspectives from Indian History (2012). His monograph Sants and their Panths is forthcoming from Primus Books, Delhi.
Dr Mayank Kumar teaches history at Satyawati College (Evening), University of Delhi. His research interests pertain to the exploration of human-nature relationships in early modern times. Along with several articles in reputed journals, Kumar has published Monsoon Ecologies: Irrigation, Agriculture and Settlement Patterns in Rajasthan during the Pre-Colonial Period (2013). He was associated with the Decision Centre for Desert City, Arizona State University, as a Fulbright Fellow. and has been a Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, New Delhi, as well as a UGC National Research Awardee.
WRITINGS ON THE agrarian history of the Mughal period and late precolonial India during the 1960s and 1970s were concerned primarily with the pattern of agricultural production and methods of appropriation of agrarian surplus. Hierarchy and stratification among the appropriators of the surplus and sections of the ruling class were examined systematically and the various mechanisms of distribution of surplus were worked upon. One of the important contributions of this new kind of agrarian history was to successfully demolish the colonial historiographical construct of a changeless, unstratified and self-sufficient village society in the pre-colonial period. These explorations reveal the existence of a dynamic, highly stratified and vibrant rural society. However, while the role played by the availability of means of production at the disposal of individual peasants and, more importantly, by the regressive nature of the land revenue system in causing sharp differentiation among the rural population was underlined by many scholars, it was the ground-breaking work of Professor Dilbagh Singh on the eighteenth-century rural society of eastern Rajasthan that gave a new orientation to the understanding of the role of caste (jati) in shaping the agrarian relations and the ' moral economy' of the late pre-colonial peasantry. Before the writings of Professor Singh broadened the scope of rural history of later medieval India, the field was dominated by researches based on Indo-Persian sources and the accounts of early colonial administrators and ethnographers. His micro-level study of the rural society of eastern Rajasthan at the pargana- and village-level marked both continuity with and departure from the then growing field of later and late medieval agrarian history. While his scholarship reaffirmed the image of a highly stratified village society, it at the same time added a new dimension to the analysis by making us aware of the existence of a caste-based rural social order reinforced by a freshly charged Rajput state and characterized by diverse forms of conflicts, disputes, dominance and resistance. Investigations into the significant role of money-lending and its intricate relationships with agricultural production in the harsh climate of semi-arid eastern Rajasthan have been his monumental contribution. Similarly, the focus in his writings on the intervention of state apparatus in the 'domestic' affairs of the society was in marked contrast to the dominant historiography which was not well-equipped to explore this dimension due to its excessive dependence on Persian sources. He was among the pioneering 'settlers' at the newly established Rajasthan State Archives and brought to light a whole new range of Rajasthani archival materials. In the course of time, research scholars became familiar with these sources but they were an absolute curiosity then.
It goes to the credit of Professor Singh and the other early users of these voluminous files and registers that a large number of younger research scholars were inspired to learn the languages of the archival documents preserved at the Rajasthan State Archives and take up new themes of research on the history of medieval Rajasthan. His diligence in collecting information from these sources and his skilful use of the documents helped him explore new areas of research and contribute immensely to the transformation of the field of historical scholarship on medieval Rajasthan. His in-depth knowledge and understanding of a variety of historical sources for the Amber kingdom and other principalities and regions of Rajasthan helped him guide and supervise research on very diverse themes. If he was guiding research on the agrarian history and social relations of Mewat region, he was also supervising research on the working of mercantile relations in different parts of Rajasthan. His willingness and ability to read sources with fresh perspectives made him guide research in the hitherto unexplored areas and open a fresh line of investigation.
When 'environmental history' was considered a sub-discipline exploring the impact of colonial rule, he encouraged his doctoral students to take up research in the field of day-to-day human-nature interactions away from the 'mega' events. His phenomenal willingness to transcend the boundaries of rigid periodization and the binary of agrarian versus pastoral was phenomenal and resulted in challenging the established categories. His extraordinary capacity to be accessible to anybody at any time and his willingness to help researchers who were not officially supervised by him made our task of bringing out this festschrift somewhat difficult as the editors received an overwhelming response from a large number of scholars to contribute to the volume. We have been compelled to restrict the contributions to studies pertaining to Rajasthan. Nevertheless, as the saying 'exceptions that prove the rule' goes, there are couple of papers which do not fit into the temporal and spatial framework of the work as we had initially planned it. We are grateful to the contributors for bearing with the delay at our end and for responding to our queries at the earliest.
Last but not the least, let us briefly offer a brief note on the achievements and contributions of Professor Singh. Professor Singh obtained his Master's Degree from the University of Rajasthan and subsequently taught there for three years. He later joined the Centre for Historical Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University as an Assistant Professor and completed his doctoral thesis there on 'Local and Land Revenue Administration of Jaipur State (1750-1800's)' under the guidance of Professor Satish Chandra. He was recipient of the Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellowship which he pursued at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, during 1979-80. He visited Maison des sciences de l'homme, Paris, several times between 1984 and 1991 as a Fellow. He was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Humboldt, East Berlin, in 1987 and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Leiden, Netherlands, in 1990. Professor Singh was a member of the Indian Council for Historical Research between 2001 and 2004. He was elected Sectional President, Punjab History Congress 1995 and President, Rajasthan History Congress in 2006. Apart from his primary contribution in the form of a monograph titled State, Landlords and Peasants.- Rajasthan in the 18th Century (1990), he has published several highly influential articles.
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