In memoriam: Prof. B.D Chattopadhyay

JNUTA is deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of Prof. Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, a noted historian and well-loved teacher on 13th July 2022. Fondly addressed as Brajada by colleagues and friends, Prof. Chattopadhyaya retired from JNU in 2004 having taught at the Centre for Historical Studies, virtually since its inception, in 1971.

Prof Chattopadhyaya’s scholarship, which consisted of several very important and pathbreaking monographs and essays laid the ground work for a paradigm shift in the understanding of ancient India, and the acknowledgement of an ‘early medieval’ in Indian history. His research interests were wide-ranging and included inquiries into the nature of the state, economic processes, including agrarian relations, and understanding the formation of regional identities. His scholarship was backed by meticulous research which was able to track and trace nuances by providing rich details. His knowledge of epigraphic, numismatic and textual sources was exceptionally deep. His life dedicated to academia resulted in historical works that have stood the test of time and will always be regarded as classics in the discipline. These include The Making of Early Medieval India, and The Concept of Bharatavarsha. He was also able to train several generations of students who continue to remember him for not only the manner in which they were trained, but the humaneness with which he engaged with each one of them.

Prof. Chattopadhyaya’s passing leaves behind a deep intellectual void. He will be sorely missed as a historian who tried to understand the past on its own terms, neither to eulogise nor condemn. He will be missed as a humane teacher who taught with a sincere desire to train future generations, which he did with wit, humour and great charity. His deep commitment to working for a more equitable, just and humane society will continue to inspire us.

The JNUTA conveys its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and students.

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