Prof. Purushottam Agarwal
(b. 1955 at Gwalior, India), Graduation (1974 - Maharani Laxmi Bai College,
Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh), MA (Political Science, 1977 - Jiwaji University,
Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, MA (Hindi Literature, 1979 - Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi), Ph.D (Hindi Literature, 1985, ‘The Social Meaning of
Kabir’s Bhakti’; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi).
Formerly Chairperson, Center of Indian Languages, School of Language,
Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Chief
Advisor, Hindi Textbooks (classes VI-XII), NCERT, New Delhi (2005-07), Prof.
Agrawal taught at Ramjas College, University of Delhi (1982-90), edited and
published “Jigyasa”, an inter-disciplinary academic journal (1983-84), served as
Associate Professor, Center of Indian Languages, JNU (1990-2003). Professor of
Hindi Literature, Center of Indian Languages, School of Languages, Literature
and Culture Studies (SLLCS), JNU (2003-07).
He served as British Academy Visiting Professor at Faculty of Oriental
Studies, Cambridge University and as Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge
University, United Kingdom in 2002. Conducted two seminars on the “Identity
discourses in the current Indian politics” at the Center of South Asian Studies,
Cambridge University. Also served as Visiting Professor at El Colegio de Mexico
(National College of Mexico, Mexico City) during May-July 2002. Conducted four
seminars on the themes of culture and history of Indian people. In Nov.-
Dec.2004, during an academic tour of the United States of America, Prof. Agrawal
lectured at the Columbia University, New York; Emory University, Atlanta; Rice
University, Houston. The Halle Institute of the Emory University organized a
luncheon meeting in his honor, where he spoke on the post-election political
scene in India.
Prof. Agrawal won Devi Shankar Awasthy Samman for “Teesra Rukh”, 1996, and
Mukutdhar Pandey Samman for “Sanskriti: Varchswa aur Pratiroadh”, 1997. Some of
the ooks written by Prof. Agrawal are Kabir:Sakhi aur Sabad (A collection
of Kabir’s poetry with an analytical introduction), Shivdan Singh Chauhan (A
monograph in “Makers of Indian Literature” series published by Sahitya Akademi,
Delhi), Majbooti Ka Naam Mahatma Gandhi (published version of annual Gandhi
Lecture, organized by Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi), Nij Brahma Vichhar:Dharma
Samaj aur Dharmetar Adhyatma (Essays on religion, spirituality and philosophy),
Vichaar ka Ananta (a collection of theoretical and cultural essays), Teesra Rukh
(A collection of literary and cultural essays), Sanskriti: Varchswa aur
Pratiroadh (a collection of cultural and political essays). His latest and much
talked about book ‘Akath Kahani Prem Ki: Kabir Ki Kavita aur Unka Samay’ (2009)
was awarded the First Rajkamal Kriti Samman.
Prof. Agrawal contributes regularly to academic journals and popular
magazines on wide-ranging issues of culture, literature and current affairs.
Numerous articles both in Hindi and English have been published in academic
journals, popular magazines and newspapers over the last twenty five years.
Prof. Agrawal served as Member in several Board of Studies; Academic,
Research and Governing Council of important Universities of the Country. In many
international conferences and academic events, he delivered various keynote
address, presented papers, delivered lectures, spoke on important themes
besides organizing an international conference on ‘Evolution of Hindi’.
An active social activist and consultant, Prof. Agrawal served as chief
advisor (2003-06) of the ‘Peaceful co-existence in South Asia’ project of the
Aman Trust, Delhi. As a consultant to Oxfam, India (1998-2002), he had organized
inter-faces of scholars, creative artists and social activists as part of the
Violence Amelioration and Mitigation Project (VMAP). Of particular value have
been the interfaces between Kabir-panthis and the scholars of Kabir, and
conferences on the question of social identities and a dialogue on Spirituality
without Religion. His writings have been included in a course ‘Public
intellectuals of India’ offered by the College of Mexico, Mexico City.
Member, Union Public Service Commission of India, New Delhi since July 2,