The slimness of this book is its first surprise, seeming almost at odds with the weighty title. As Judith Brown states in the Introduction, the aim was to reach a wide audience ‘at university level and even among school students’, as also readers ‘who may know little about India but wish to know more about such a significant and intriguing figure’ as Gandhi.
When Indu Jain published her first collection of poems, titled 64 Poems, I had reviewed it in Hindi and remember to have said that she is a new poetess with promise. Her second collection is now available. I am glad that the promise is fulfilled. She has matured in her expression.
Based mainly on Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramsha texts, the present work is a sequel to P.C Jain’s Labour in Ancient India (1971). Divided into six chapters, it seeks to study the social and economic condition of various categories of Indian labour and the state of guild organizations in early medieval India.
Most seminars based on a broad theme shed some light and create some obscurity. This one is no exception. Planned as an open-ended discussion, it studies movements of protest and reform in India over the centuries, directed against things as disparate as ‘slavery, untouchability and colonialism’ (in the words of a participant). The essays are arranged chronologically, but can be grouped under four broad categories—protest by social groups or classes, dissent or reform expressed through the medium of the arts, protests in the sphere of religion, and Gandhi, who is sui generis.