Hyderabad: “Like most other men in South India, I was prepared for the life of an engineer,” remarks Anirudh Kanisetti with a laugh, while talking about his crossbreeding or his transition into the life of engineering to history. His life took a completely different course, for the better, when in his second year of engineering he discovered his love for history; especially the history of medieval South India.
Since then, 26-year-old Anirudh has been working with and discovering how history works to influence our world and its mechanization today.
Kanisetti’s next book “Lords of the Deccan: Southern India from the Chalukyas to the Cholas” is due for publication in January 2022 by Juggernaut Books. He hopes to explain the influence of the medieval south on politics and culture in contemporary times by focusing on the exploration of medieval political power and globalization. His excitement for the distant past – both good and bad nuances of it – is palpable.
Talk to Siasat.comKanisetti states that he never formally studied history. âI was first drawn to history when I visited Kolkata. The presence of history is very present and I was curious to see how the same thing worked in South India.
Since 2021 Kanisetti has been working as a public history writer since 2018 and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Indian Art at the Museum of Art and Photography.
He further adds that there is not much that can be discerned from the history that arose from the plains of the Ganges and that there is a gaping hole in our understanding of the history of India from the Ganges. South. âWhile the history of North India shows its presence in an overt way, the way the history is used by political parties and the culture of South India is much more subtle. ”
Kanisetti was referring to the presence of Kakatiya Vidhya Bhavan in today’s Hyderabad or the Telangana State emblem which has a motif, the Kakatiya Kala Thoranam, borrowed from the Kakatiya dynasty. The point he makes is simple and lucid: this story is often used to celebrate our now deceased leaders and to offer the gentry the promise of wealth and progress.
âI’m not against celebrating the past. But it is limiting to reduce the past to a simple great moment of progress or to reject it as completely demonic, âhe adds. Medieval South India was not an ideal time for women or for other oppressed groups.
But it should be noted, according to Kanisetti, that despite all the violence born of ambition, there was a healthy patronage of art and architecture and an era of great mobility. In fact, poets and priests from Kashmir are said to have been employed in the Deccan Empire, indicating how cultures spread and merged to form a cohesive whole.
Kanisetti’s book will mainly focus on kings belonging to the Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta empires. The idea, he notes, is to see how kings influenced their subjects back then and how that influence continues to shape history to this day.
While we have to wait until January to find out more, Anirudh Kanisetti’s book has already started to gain attention. Famous historian William Dalrymple read Kanisetti’s draft book and called the author a “major new talent”.
When asked why the story matters, Anirudh simply remarked that it was worth it because people are no different now than they were in medieval times.
âI stumbled upon an 11th century letter written by an Arab merchant. His wife files for divorce and he declares that he would grant it because he loved her even if it would cause him deep anguish. These feelings don’t fade. Back then, people wanted love, wealth and adventure just as much as they do today, and therefore to better understand our heritage we need history. he concludes.