Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava

(September 16, 1899 to July 12, 1973)

Ancestry

The father of eminent historian Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava, Diwan Ram Dayal was a Hindu Kayastha (Srivastava-Pandiya). As per records, Diwan Ram Dayal’s ancestor Babu Matura Prasad was a native of Amorha Village of Basti District, Uttar Pradesh, India and was son of a Prince who was brought up by a Brahmin family. Babu Mathura Prasad shifted to his father-in-law’s Village Dikholi of Tehsil Sidhauli of Sitapur. Gulab Rai, son of Mathura Prasad finally migrated to Village Andhana of Tehsil Sidhauli of Sitapur District Uttar Pradesh, India which since then became ancestral place of their family.


Early Life

The eminent historian Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava was born in a Hindu Kayastha (Srivastava-Pandiya) family on Saturday, 16th September, 1899 A.D. at his ancestral Village (hamlet) Andhana, in Tehsil (Town) Sidhauli of Sitapur District, Uttar Pradesh, India.

His father was a Diwan (Officer who manages Royal Court on behalf of the Ruler) in a Princely State of Sitapur and a prosperous Zamindar. His mother Rajrani was a religious and pious lady and was a housewife. As his parents were childless for a long time they performed many religious rituals. But they begot a son only after the blessings of a hermit. Hence this boy was given the name, Ashirbadi Lal i.e, the blessed. Later on his parents were blessed with two more sons and three daughters.

Dr. Srivastava developed interest in education and history of Akbar during his childhood days as his father used to praise Akbar through stories. He studied at Government Vernacular Middle School, Bari, a place about ten kilometres from his village where he took part in sports like, kabaddi and wrestling.

He passed high school exam in 1920 from Government Seth Jai Dayal High School, Biswan, District Sitapur, intermediate examination in 1922 from Christian College, Lucknow, B.A. from University of Lucknow in 1924 and B.A. Honours (History) in 1925 from the same University. All in first division. His subjects in B.A. were History, Urdu and Persian. He passed M.A. in History from University of Lucknow in the year 1927 with first division and joined there as full-time research student (Fellow). He was advised by his Professor (Dr.) Radha Kumud Mukherjee, Head, History Department to take up the study of the first two Nawabs of Awadh - Saadat Khan and Safdar Jung, under his guidance.


Marriage and Family

 
Dr. A. L. Srivastava and his wife Shrimati Phool Kumari
 

When Dr. Srivastava was studying in ninth standard, he was married to Phool Kumari (Age 13 Years), daughter of Munshi Gauri Shankar Srivastava of Village Khagasiamau, District Sitapur on March 15, 1917 A.D. Their first son Dharma Bhanu was born on February 4, 1924 while Dr. Srivastava was studying in B.A.

Dr. Srivastava had 3 sons, Dharma Bhanu, Satya Bhanu and Daya Bhanu and 3 daughters, Laxmi, Savitri and Saraswati.   Dr. Dharma Bhanu passed M.A. in Economics from University of Lucknow and M.A. and Ph.D in History from Agra University. He contributed papers in important journals and also had written few books.  Shri Satya Bhanu did M.A. in History subject as well as M.A. in Political Science. He also contributed papers to important journals. Both the elder sons served as Principals in the Government Colleges of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan The youngest son Daya Bhanu retired as Associate Professor of Zoology from Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur who also contributed papers to reputed research journals of the world.  All the three daughters, Laxmi, Savitri and Saraswati passed their M.A. exam in history.

In the year 1973, his wife was operated upon for breast cancer and was undergoing radio therapy. Her condition was deteriorating day after day.

 

 

After knowing from the Doctor that his wife will survive only for four to six months, he could not bear the shock.  During that time, he developed an ulcer in his stomach. He regularly felt pain in stomach but started neglecting it and simply skipped his meals.  Hence, the condition of ulcer gradually went on deteriorating.

On July 11, 1973 he experienced severe pain as the ulcer started bleeding. He was rushed to S.N. Hospital, Agra. Doctors tried to save him but could not succeed to improve his health. In the evening of next day, on July 12, 1973, at around 7.40 pm, he breathed his last for his heavenly abode at the age of 74.

He was finalizing the draft of one of his literary works, Akbar the Great Volume-III (Society and Culture in 16th Century India) and wanted to translate and publish this volume in Hindi Language, but he did not live long enough to see it through the Press.

His sudden death was so shocking to his wife that she could no longer stay at the house without her husband. Therefore, she decided to leave Agra, handed over the responsibility of the house to his eldest son and shifted to live with his youngest son at Jodhpur.  On December 26, 1973 at 7.00 pm she also left for her heavenly abode.

 

 
Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava’s family along with the family of his Grand Guru Sir Jadunath Sarkar during later's stay at Agra for participating in the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Agra College, Agra
Standing (L to R): Dr. Satya Bhanu (Second Son of Dr. Srivastava); Ms. Laxmi (Eldest Daughter of Dr. Srivastava); Ms. Saraswati (Youngest Daughter of Dr. Srivastava); Ms. Kona (Grand Daughter of Sir Jadunath Sarkar); Ms. Savitri (Second Daughter of Dr. Srivastava) and Shri Daya Bhanu (Youngest Son of Dr. Srivastava) Sitting (L to R): Son-in-Law of Sir Jadunath Sarkar; Shrimati Phool Kumari (Wife of Dr. Srivastava); Sir Jadunath Sarkar; Daughter of Sir Jadunath Sarkar; Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava

Research and Teaching

 
Dr. Srivastava in early seventies at his desk in his study room at Agra House
 

Soon after passing the examination of M.A. in 1927, Dr. Srivastava started his research work at the University of Lucknow. All of a sudden, he got a job offer from Maharana Bhupal Government College, Udaipur, Mewar State. He joined there as lecturer, but here also he continued his research work and as and when he got time he visited libraries and research institutions across the Country and continued his studies.

Thus, in early 1932, he was awarded Ph.D.  Degree from University of Lucknow and attained the rare distinction of becoming the first Ph.D. degree holder from the history department of Lucknow University.

In 1934, he was appointed as the head of history department at Government Dungar College, in Bikaner State.  Here also he continued his research work on, Shuja-ud-Daulah the Nawab of Awadh, for his D. Litt Degree.  In early 1938, Agra University awarded him D. Litt degree on his research work on, Shuja-ud-Daulah, Volume - I (Year 1754 - 1765).

In 1943, Dr. Srivastava was appointed as head of the history department at D.A.V. College, Lahore.  He continued his further research on the tenure of Shuja-ud-Daulah from 1765 to 1775. He was awarded D. Litt degree on this work by Lucknow University in 1945. As a result, Dr. Srivastava then became one of those few selected scholars of the Country who were awarded D. Litt degree by two different Universities. In 1946, he was given additional charge of the professor and head of history department, Panjab University, Lahore. 

 

In 1947, due to partition of the Country into India and Pakistan, Lahore became a part of Pakistan. Therefore, he along with his family shifted to his native Village in District Sitapur, U.P. Thereafter, he joined one of the oldest and most prestigious

Colleges of north India, the Agra College as professor and head of the history and political science department and retired from this Institution on 30th June, 1962.

Soon after his retirement he was appointed Professor Emeritus by the University Grants Commission for a period of five years. After completion of this tenure he was again selected by the UGC for another five years. Thus, even after retirement he continued to remain engaged in research work, writing books and guiding research scholars without any financial difficulty.  Under this UGC Scheme he was required to do research work, to guide research students and write books.

During the last years of his life he wrote and published his finest research work on, "Akbar the Great" in three volumes.

On account of the quality of his research work, he was invited by Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. USA to write the history of India, for its fifteenth edition (Pages 334 to 430). 

Thus, he joined the group of those few privileged Indians who contributed articles to this prestigious Encyclopaedia.  Dr. Srivastava also contributed articles to the Bengali Encyclopaedia, Calcutta and Marathi Encyclopaedia, Pune.

 

 

Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava being garlanded by a Student of History Department, Agra College, Agra on the occasion of his 73rd Birthday
   

Personality

   

   

Honours and Awards

  1. Sir Jadunath Sarkar Gold Medal
  2. Dr. Srivastava was awarded Asiatic Society's most coveted Sir Jadunath Sarkar Gold Medal on 1st February, 1954, for his excellent research work based on his published research books and articles.

  3. 2. Banerjee Research Award (Research Prize)
  4. In 1947, Lucknow University awarded him Banerjee Research Award (Research Prize) for his highly praised published research book on, The First Two Nawabs of Awadh and Shuja-ud-Daulah (Volume I and Volume II)


Books:

The First Two Nawabs of Awadh with a foreword by Sir Jadunath Sarkar published in 1933. The second revised and corrected edition was published in June 1954.

  • Shuja-ud-Daulah, Vol. I  (1754-1765) published in 1939
  • Shuja-ud-Dauiah, Vol. II (1765-1775) published in 1945
  • Sher Shah Suri and his Successors, published in 1950

Though meant for University students following books are based on original sources and have broken new ground.

  • The Sultanate of Delhi, 1950
  • The Mughal Empire, 1952
  • History of India, 1964


Contribution

   
Dr. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava delivering an address during Indian Science Congress opening at Agra
Sitting around the table are Shri K.P. Bhatnagar, Vice Chancellor, Agra University; Dr. K.M. Munshi, Governor, Uttar Pradesh and President of the Indian Science Congress
 

Dr. Srivastava always taught B.A. classes throughout his life. His towering personality, his knowledge and achievements in the field of historical research influenced and impressed the students and used to develop an urge to study the subject of history and take up research work.

In order to arrive at the correct inferences, he always read the original resources written in Urdu and Persian and from other languages, like, Hindi, Marathi and Arabic. He even took the help of those Maulvis (Clerics) who were well versed in Arabic.

Just like his Grand Guru, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, his observations and inferences were on the basis of authentic arguments and original resources without favouring anybody. He always stated the correct facts and events without any fear or favour even though some of them were unpleasant to a few scholars.

During the eighteenth century the government administration of the Nawabs of Awadh greatly influenced the whole of the Country. Dr. Srivastava authored three volumes on the Nawabs of Awadh. Thereafter, he published three volumes on Mughal Emperor Akbar.

On the basis of authentic evidences and arguments, he not only rejected the misconceptions of the Indian as well as foreign authors but also corrected their wrong contentions, citing examples, on the basis of correct facts and irrefutable arguments. He has also exposed, citing examples, the tendency of the foreign writers to reject the concepts and writings of the Indian historians, that too, with arguments and has shown that in some cases some of the opinions of Indian writers are correct and are more authentic.

His books meant for the University students and for the competitive examinations are also based on original sources.

He rejected the misconceptions and wrong contentions of foreign authors and of a particular school of thought of Indian historians and revealed the facts on the basis of relevant and authentic information and arguments so that the young students can learn the truth and the correct history of the Country.. 


Students

Dr. Srivastava was engaged in research work, remained engrossed in studies and guided research students throughout his life. Students from all over the Country went to Agra to seek his guidance and help for the award of Ph.D. and D.Litt Degrees. He always helped everybody, without any discrimination, whosoever went to him to pursue research work. He also advised and inspired them to continue their research work even after obtaining the doctoral degrees.

He even inspired some of those persons who were not in the teaching profession to take up research work and guided them in acquiring Ph.D. Degrees in the subject of History and Political Science, for example, Dr. Lal Bahadur and Dr. Kailash Chandra Chaturvedi.

He also helped students to get their research thesis published in the form of books.

Some of the publications which earned praise are as under:

S.No.

Name of the Student Degree Awarded Title & Publisher
1 Dr. Gopi Nath Sharma D.Litt. Mewar and the Mughal Emperor, 1526-1707, Shiv Lal Agrawal & Company, Agra
2 Dr. Lal Bahadur Ph. D The Muslim League - Its History, Activities and Achievements, Agra Book Store, Agra
3 Dr. P.N. Chopra Ph. D Some Aspects of Society and culture during the Mughal Age, Shiv Lal Agrawal & Company, Agra
4 Dr. Dharma Bhanu Ph. D History and Administration of Agra Province, 1803-1858
5 Dr. Shanti Prasad Verma D.Litt. Anglo-Maratha Relations, 1772-1783
6 Dr. R. Nath Ph. D Colour Decoration in Mughal Architecture
 
Dr. Srivastava alongwith two of his research students, Dr. J.V. Varghese (Left) and Dr. Gopi Nath (Right) during Agra University Convocation, 1962

He supervised about 30 students for their Ph.D. and D.Litt. Degrees. They were awarded Degrees by various Universities, like, the Universities of Panjab (Chandigarh), Rajasthan (Jaipur), Meerut and Agra, and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani.

His life is an example for the youth to see and learn as to how a person from a very small place overcomes all the trials and turbulences of life and achieve great heights, sheerly by dint of honesty, dedication, hard work and with a correct and definite goal.


   

Chronology of Events in the Life of Dr. A. L. Srivastava

Date Event

16 September 1899            

Born in Village Andhana, Tehsil Sidhauli, District Sitapur, State of Uttar Pradesh, India
15 March 1917           Married to Phool Kumari (Age 13 years)
1920                    Passed High School Exam from State Government Seth Jai Dayal High School, Biswan, District Sitapur
1922                    Passed Intermediate Examination from Christian College, Lucknow
4 February 1924         First Son was born
17 March 1924           Father Diwan Ram Dayal Expired
1924                    Passed B.A. Examination from University of Lucknow
1925                    Passed B.A. Honours (History) from University of Lucknow
1927                    Passed the M.A. Examination in History
1927 Joined as Lecturer in History, Government  M.B. College, Udaipur, Mewar State
1932                    Awarded Ph.D. by University of Lucknow
1934                    Appointed Head of the History Department, Government Dungar College, Bikaner State
1938                    Awarded D. Litt Degree by Agra University on Shuja-ud-Daulah, Volume - I (Year 1754 - 1765)
1943                    Appointed Head of History Department, DAV College, Lahore
1945                     Awarded D. Litt Degree by Lucknow University on Shuja-ud-Daulah, Volume - II (Year 1765 - 1775)
1946                    Assumed additional charge of Professor and Head, History Department, Panjab University, Lahore
August 1947             Appointed Professor and Head, History and Political Science Department, Agra College, Agra
30 June 1962            Retired from Agra College, Agra
1963                    Appointed Professor Emeritus by University Grants Commission (UGC)  for five years
1969                    Appointed Professor Emeritus by the University Grants Commission (UGC)  for another five years
12 July 1973            Death (Age 74 Years)
26 December 1973        Death of Wife
   
 

 


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