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Romila Thapar – The Indian Historian Pundit


Romila Thapar

Quick Facts

  • Name: Romila Thapar
  • Famous As: Historian Pundit
  • Birth Date: 30 November 1931
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Birth Place: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
  • Awards: Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship (1976), Kluge Prize (2008), Denied Padma Bhushan Award Twice


Famous historian Romila Thapar is known for her amazing knowledge on history. Her greatness can be seen in her books. She is not only a great historian but a great human being as well. She currently serves as the Professor Emerita at prestigious JNU located in New Delhi.

Early Life and Study

Born on 30th November 1931, Romila was from a Punjabi family. She spent her childhood in various parts of India after her birth in Lucknow as her father was in the army. Her first degree was at the Punjab University and then she studied further and got her Doctorate in the year 1958 from London University. She taught as a professor in a lot of universities like Delhi University, London University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Romila Thapar – Indian Historian

Writing of Great Books on History

Romila Thapar loved ancient history and was a master of it. Her subject of teaching in Universities was also ancient history. Some of her major work in ancient history which shows her knowledge on history are:

  • Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations

  • A History of India Volume One

  • Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300

  • Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History

  • Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas 

Romila Thapar’s works are superb when you are researching about the origins of Hinduism. Her recent work on Somnath was very famous and showed her knowledge and research which she does as a Historian.

Amazing Facts about History she Discovered

Romila Thapar – Indian Historical Pundit

Her first work was Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas which was published in the year 1961. Thapar gives a brief description about the social and economical along with the political context of that time. Romila Thapar also gave a description of the Dhamma Policy of Ashoka. She told that the empire was full of culture but the central administration of the empire is the main reason for its decline. Readers feel really amazed that how easily she came out with such great research which has so much value to the history. A History of India Volume One is the book where the Indian Historical Pundit Romila states the history of the early part of India until the arrival of the Europeans which happened in the 16th century.

The book Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations, shows the early period till its end in the first millennium. The religious systems of the Hindus and Buddhist are described here. It gives us an account of a vast history of the formation of the states in first millennium BC, the use of plough and the use of iron in agriculture, description of a settled farmer civilization. Such a vivid description can’t be given by anybody other than her.

Awards Won by the Great Historian

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Due to her amazing works and knowledge on history, she did get a lot of recognitions and awards.

  • In 1976, Romila Thapar was awarded the famous Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship.

  • At Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, Thapar is an honorary fellow.

  • The University of Chicago gave her honorary doctorate.

  • There are some other universities too, which gave her honorary doctorate like The University of Edinburgh, The University of Oxford, The University of Calcutta and The University of Hyderabad.

  • She was the first holder of Kluge Chair appointed by US Library of Congress in 2004.

  • She turned down the Padma Bhushan twice as it was not associated with her professional work in 1992 and 2005.

  • She got the very prestigious Kluge Prize in the year 2008.

Visionary Quotes of Romila Thapar

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Romila Thapar, a great human being had done major works in history. Some of her great quotes are – 

“The fundamental sanity of Indian civilization has been due to an absence of Satan.”

“Epic literature is not history but is again a way of looking at the past.”

“Nations have to be built on an inclusive identity.”

“Democracy ceases to be so if it is governed by permanent majoritarian identities of any kind.”

The Historian Pundit has written many writings and books associated with ancient India. She is an avid reader and still loves reading and writing about the Ancient India and Social India.


Written By: Hetal Kabra


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