BASHAM, Arthur Llewellyn

BASHAM, Arthur Llewellyn. Loughton, Essex 24.5.1914 — Calcutta 27.1.1986. British Indologist in Australia. Professor in London and Canberra. Son of a journalist, Abraham Arthur Edward B., who had also served in Indian army, and Maria Jane Thompson, also a journalist and writer, educated at Gorleston School. Began his career as a leftist poet in London, became soon interested in Indology, and studied it from 1938 at S.O.A.S. in London (M.A. 1941, Ph.D. 1951). During the war worked in the Civil Defence Department. Wrote his dissertation under the guidance of —> Barnett. From 1948 Lecturer in the History of India, 1953 Reader, and from 1957 Professor of the History of South Asia at S.O.A.S. From 1965 Professor and Head of the new Department of Asian Civilisations at Australian National University in Canberra. Retired in 1979. D.Litt. 1964 London and D.Litt. 1965 Kurukshetra University. Several times visiting Professor at universities in South Asia, North and South America. In September 1985 appointed to the Swami Vivekananda Professorship in Oriental Studies at Calcutta, but died before its beginning. Married 1942 Violet Helen Kemp and, after divorce, 1964 Namita Catherine Shadap-Sen, children.

Basham was a prominent scholar of ancient Indian history and especially of cultural history. His Wonder became soon famous and attracted a wide readership and many translations (the curious name was not his, but his publisher’s choice). In 1960 he convened the famous conference on the date of Kaniṣka in London. Among his numerous students were K. Indrapala, S. K. Maity, A. K. Narain, Sarva Daman Singh, J. W. Spellman, R. Thapar and Th. R. Trautmann in London, K. G. Zysk in Canberra.

Publications: Diss. publ. as The History and Doctrines of the Ājīvikas. 304 p. L. 1951; selected & transl. Sources of Indian Tradition. 1-2. N.Y. 1958; articles.

The Wonder That Was India. L. 1954, 2nd ed. 1963, 3rd rev. ed. 605 p. L. 1969, transl. into French, Polish, Russian (M. 1977), Tamil, Sinhalese, and Hindi.

– “Modern historians of ancient India”, C. H. Philips (ed.), Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. L. 1961, 260-293.

Edited: Papers on the Date of Kaniṣka. 478 p. Ld. 1968; Civilizations of Monsoon Asia. 324 p. Sydney 1974; A Cultural History of India. 605 p. L. 1975.

The origins and development of classical Hinduism. Ed. by K. G. Zysk. 159 p. Delhi 1990.

Sources: *K. Ballhatchet, BSOAS 49, 1986, 561f.; *Neelambar Hutti, AO 47, 1986, 63-65; *A.H. Johns, JASB 38:3, 1986, 81-85, with photo; J.T.F. Jordens, Austr. Nat. Biogr. 17, 2007; *I. Puskas, AOHu 41, 1987, 129f.; Th.R. Trautmann, JIABS 11:2, 1988, 131-135; F. Wilhelm, ZDMG 138, 1988, 17-23 (with photo); K. Zysk, JAOS 106, 1986, 411f.; Wikipedia (with two photos).

*S.N. Mukherjee(ed.), India. History and Thought. Essays in Honour of A.L.B. Calcutta 1982 (with photo); *Studies in Orientalogy. Essays in Memory of Prof. A.L.B. Agra 1988; *S. K. Maity, Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and Perspectives of Ancient Indian History and Culture. 1997.

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