A social and political acuvisi and a free-thinker, Laxmansnastri Joshi, thoug a relatively lesser known figure in Indian history, played a significant role in the freedom struggle. Joshi was an ardent supporter of the satyagrah movement. He counselled Gandhi to overcome his conflicts against the upper classes in bringing the marginalized untouchables into the mainstream. His scholarship reflected his knowledge of Sanskrit and the Vedas as well as Marx's philosophy of building a just society. Ambedkar, too, sought Joshi's help in drafting the constitution of democratic India. Swimming Upstream is not merely a biography of Joshi but captures in a microcosm the transitional throes of South-Asian society from tradition to modernity. This work traces the journey of Joshi from being an orthodox Vedic scholar to becoming a radical social reformer and an atheist. The authors also evaluate and locate Joshi's critique of Marathi and Dalit literature. As a humanist, his innovative arguments transcended conventions instead of bowing to them. Appraising Joshi's contribution towards the creation of a free and secular India, M.N. Roy, one of his contemporaries, described him as 'one of the finest products of the Indian renaissance'.
Arundhati C. Khandkar is former professor and vice principal, SIES College, University of Bombay, Mumbai, India.
Ashok C. Khandkar is a medical device entrepreneur and adjunct associate professor, materials science and engineering and metallurgical engineering departments, University of Utah, USA.
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