A Princely Impostor?: The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal
In 1921 a traveling religious man appeared in eastern British Bengal. Soon residents began to identify this half-naked and ash-smeared sannyasi as none other than the Second Kumar of Bhawal--a man believed to have died twelve years earlier, at the age of twenty-six. So began one of the most extraordinary legal cases in Indian history. The case would rivet popular attention for several decades as it unwound in courts from Dhaka and Calcutta to London.
This narrative history tells an incredible story replete with courtroom drama, sexual debauchery, family intrigue, and squandered wealth. With a novelist's eye for interesting detail, Partha Chatterjee sifts through evidence found in official archives, popular songs, and backstreet Bangladeshi bookshops. He evaluates the case of the man claiming, with the support of legions of tenants and relatives, to be the long-lost Kumar. And he considers the position of the sannyasi's detractors, including the colonial government and the Kumar's young widow, who resolutely refused to meet the man she denounced as an impostor.
Along the way, Chatterjee introduces us to a fascinating range of human character, gleans insights into the nature of human identity, and examines the relation between scientific evidence, legal truth, and cultural practice. The story he tells unfolds alongside decades of Indian history. Its plot is shaped by changing gender and class relations and punctuated by critical historical events, including the onset of World War II, the Bengal famine of 1943, and the Great Calcutta Killings. And by identifying the earliest erosion of colonialism and the growth of nationalist thinking within the organs of colonial power, Chatterjee also gives us a secret history of Indian nationalism.
What people are saying - Write a review
Review: A Princely Imposter? The Kumar Of Bhawal And The Secret History Of Indian NationalismUser Review - Sharad Jain - Goodreads
Well... I had always been into fiction and this was my first real life story. Too much of similar stuff repeated across the chapters... becomes redundant at times. Though you have to give it to the ... Read full review
Review: A Princely Imposter? The Kumar Of Bhawal And The Secret History Of Indian NationalismUser Review - Sravanthi Kollu - Goodreads
Loved the way the narrative moves. As a friend said, its like a racy detective novel. But what was totally addictive was the way Chatterjee laid out the context in detail (the lifestyles of the kumars ... Read full review
The Facts of the Matter
An Estate Called Bhawal
On Hunting and Other Sports
What Happened in Darjeeling?
First Brush with the Law
The House on Lansdowne Road
A Fondness for Miracles
The Identity Puzzle
To London And Back