Celebrating life and legacy of Vasudev Sharan Agarwal

OV Digital Desk
3 Min Read
Vasudev Sharan Agarwal

Vasudev Sharan Agarwal (7 August 1904 – 27 July 1966) was an Indian scholar of cultural history, Sanskrit and Hindi literature, numismatics, museology, and art history.

Life and Career

Vasudev Sharan Agarwal was born on 7 August 1904 in a village in Meerut district, Uttar Pradesh. He completed his M.A. from Lucknow University in 1929, and his Ph.D. and D.Litt. from the same university in 1941 and 1946 respectively. His doctoral and post-doctoral research was on the cultural material in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, a classic work of Sanskrit grammar.

He started his career as a curator of the Mathura Museum in 1931 and later became the director of the U.P. State Museum in Lucknow in 1940. He also worked as a superintendent of museums in the Archaeological Survey of India and was attached to the Central Asian Antiquities Museum in New Delhi in 1946. In 1951, he joined Banaras Hindu University as a professor and head of the Department of Art and Architecture.

He wrote many books and articles on various aspects of Indian art, culture, and literature. Some of his notable works are India as Known to Panini: A Study of the Cultural Material in Ashtadhyayi (1953),  Padmavat Sanjivani Vyakhya (1955), a prose commentary on the medieval Hindi epic Padmavat by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, for which he received the Sahitya Akademi Award in Hindi in 1956, Devi-Mahatmyam: The Glorification of the Great Goddess (1963), a translation and interpretation of the Sanskrit text on the worship of the Goddess., The Heritage of Indian Art (1964), is a comprehensive survey of the development and diversity of Indian art from ancient to modern times.

He also collaborated with many composers, sound artists, and filmmakers, and appeared on BBC radio and television. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a trustee of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry.

He died on 27 July 1966 in Varanasi.

Award and Legacy

He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in Hindi in 1956 for his prose commentary on the medieval epic Padmavat by Malik Muhammad Jayasi.

He also wrote many books and articles on various aspects of Indian art, culture, and literature, such as India as Known to Panini, The Heritage of Indian Art, and Devi-Mahatmyam.

He was a professor and head of the Department of Art and Architecture at Banaras Hindu University. His legacy is that of a prolific and versatile scholar who enriched the fields of literature, art, and culture with his original and insightful contributions.

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