18 April, 2021

A Taste Of Bamiyan

An 87-year old research institute is vandalised in the name of Shivaji. Priceless manuscripts are gone forever.

Indian Express
A Taste Of Bamiyan
Pune's cherished legacy of scholarship suffered a severe concussion last week: a drove of hoodlums stormed and ravaged the city's reputed Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Their grouse: the institute, established in 1917 and revered globally as the nerve-centre of Indological and Orientological research, had helped American author James W. Laine in his book on Shivaji, Hindu King in Islamic India. The book, praised in academic circles, carried some brief uncharitable remarks about the parentage of the legendary 17th century Maratha ruler. A week later, even as aid pours in from far and wide to help the institute back on its feet, the city which has prided itself as the bastion of culture, knowledge and everything urbane is still finding it difficult to rebound.

The institute's only fault was that it allowed an American author—much like the countless researchers it has hosted from faraway countries—access to its hallowed collection of 1,50,000 books and 80,000 rare manuscripts. What has exacerbated the anguish of intellectuals at the mindless ransacking...

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