Anant Sadashiv Altekar (1898–1960; Marathi: अनंत सदाशिव अळतेकर) was a historian, archaeologist, and numismatist from Maharashtra, India. He was the Manindra Chandra Nandi Professor and Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, and later the director of the Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute and University Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture at the University of Patna, both in Patna, India.
Work in archeology
In 1936, at the invitation of the local government, he conducted an archaeological and historical survey of Kotah, and made many discoveries there, including the excavation of many old forts and temples; the most important of his discoveries from this expedition were three stone pillars dated to the year 295 of the Vikrama Era (AD 238), the second-oldest Vikrama inscriptions known. From 1951 to 1955 he led another excavation at Kumhrar, under the auspices of the Jayaswal Institute; his discoveries there confirmed the theories of D. B. Spooner that the site, which Altekar described as "probably the earliest huge stone-pillared structure to be built by Indian architects", was a relic of the Maurya Empire. On display at the Patna Museum is a casket excavated by Altekar at a Buddhist monastery near Vaishali in 1958, said to contain the ashes of the Buddha.
Study of the history of education in India
Altekar corresponded in 1932 with Gandhi concerning Hinduism and the untouchable castes. His 1934 book Education in Ancient India provided a comprehensive review of all aspects of education in India until around AD 1200, with some additional treatment of topics up to the start of the British Raj. In his book, Altekar collected extensive historical information on education in India from Sanskrit, Brahminic, Pali and Buddhist literature, along with inscriptions and accounts by foreign travellers. He also included defects in his study in the last chapter. In the book, Altekar proposes a theory of steady decline in Indian literacy from an earlier golden age, which later scholars such as Hartmut Scharfe dismissed as "sheer phantasy". Scharfe called Altekar an apologist, that his anti-British theory may have been influenced by his participation in the freedom struggle against British colonialism in 1930s when the book was first published. Scharfe acknowledges Altekar collected useful historical information.
Other academic projects
Altekar's book The Position of Women in Hindu Civilization From Prehistoric Times to the Present Day (1938) was the first historical survey of the status of women in India. Altekar's other books include The Vakataka-Gupta Age, State and Government in Ancient India, Rāshṭrakūṭas and their times, History of Benares, and several books on Gupta coinage.
In 1947 Altekar was elected the first chairman of the Numismatic Society of India, and in 1960 the Journal of the Numismatic Society of India published a commemorative volume in his honour. Altekar also chaired the All India Oriental Conference in 1958.
- "Professor Anant Sadashiv Altekar commemoration volume", Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, 22, 1960.
- Feldhaus, Anne (1998), Images of Women in Maharashtrian Society, SUNY Press, p. 266, ISBN 978-0-7914-3659-2.
- Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra; Altekar, Anant Sadashiv (2007), The Vakataka-Gupta Age, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, ISBN 978-81-208-0043-4, retrieved 13 September 2009. Reprint of 1946 edition.
- Srivastava, Vijai Shankar, ed. (1981), Cultural contours of India: Dr. Satya Prakash felicitation volume, Abhinav Publications, pp. 40–41, 61, ISBN 978-0-391-02358-1.
- Inden, Ronald B. (2000), Imagining India, Indiana University Press, p. 150, ISBN 978-0-253-21358-7.
- "First Lap of the Tour Programme", Report of the Sanskrit Commission 1956–1957, archived from the original on 16 April 2009, retrieved 13 September 2009.
- "Science Notes – Archaeological Discoveries in Kotah State" (PDF), Current Science: 899, June 1936
- Excavation sites in Bihar, Archaeological Survey of India, retrieved 13 September 2009.
- Altekar, A. S.; Mishra, V., Report on Kumrahar Excavations 1951–1955.
- Chaudhary, Pranava K. (1 March 2003), "Holy ashes fail to attract pilgrims", Times of India
- Buddha's bones on display to public, ABC News, 16 May 2003.
- Chaudhary, Pranava K. (27 May 2006), "Bihar 'no' to Lanka's plea for Buddha relic", Times of India, archived from the original on 17 July 2012 .
- www.gandhiserve.org/correspondence/1932.html, GandhiServe Foundation, retrieved 13 September 2009.
- The Indian Book Shop, 1934; 7th ed., Manohar Prakashan, 1975
- Review by Paul Frederick Cressey, American Journal of Sociology 40(3): 424, 1934, doi:10.1086/216811.
- Review by V. Raghavan Archived 8 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Triveni, Nov.-Dec. 1933, retrieved 14 September 2009.
- Rocher, Ludo; Scharfe, Hartmut (2004), "Review of Education in Ancient India (2002) by Hartmut Scharfe", Journal of the American Oriental Society, American Oriental Society, 124 (1): 197–199, doi:10.2307/4132197, JSTOR 4132197.
- Scharf, Hartmut (2002), Education in Ancient India (Handbook of Oriental Studies), 16, Brill Academic, pp. 64–70
- 2nd ed., Motilal Banarsidass, 1959; Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59740-263-7.
- 3rd ed., Motilal Banarsidass, 1958. Textbook Publishers, 2003, ISBN 978-0-7581-7992-0.
- Oriental Book Agency, 1967.
- Culture Publication House, Benares Hindu University, 1937.
- Works by Anant Sadashiv-Altekar at Open Library.
- Numismatic Society of India, retrieved 13 September 2009.
- Pankaj, Bhavana (2 February 2003), "The Story of a Centenarian", The Tribune.