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James Tod The Loyalist: The American Roots of an Indian Classic

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

James Tod The Loyalist: The American Roots of an Indian Classic
John McLeod

(Prof. John McLeod is a Professor at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA.)

James Tod Award Ceremony Udaipur, Rajasthan (See original image here)

  In the 180 years since its publication, James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajast’han (1829-1832) has become a classic of Indian literature. 1 Annals and Antiquities and the subsequent Travels in Western India (published posthumously in 1839) combine travelogs of Tod’s journeys through the Rajput kingdoms in Rajasthan and Gujarat with tales composed by court bards about Rajput monarchs and nobles. 2 When they were first published, Tod’s books brought the Rajputs and their realms to the notice of the English-speaking world. Since 1872, they have been repeatedly translated into Indian languages, and they have provided many readers, Indian and foreign, with their first introduction to the Rajputs.  Mahatma Gandhi was only one of many nationalists who looked to Tod as the source of references to Rajput heroism and independence. 3 In the 1950s, a Rajput Maharaja who was studying at Oxford became a friend of L.G. Pine, one of the greatest British genealogists of the twentieth century. To introduce Pine to the genealogy of his own people, the Maharaja presented him with a copy of Annals and Antiquities .4    And it is very likely that the present-day Indian picture of such Rajput heroes as Prithviraj Chauhan and Queen Padmini comes not directly from bardic literature, but through the medium of Tod.5...

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