K. S. Lal

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K. S. Lal
Kishori Saran Lal

Alma materUniversity of Allahabad
OccupationHistorian, Academic
Known forAuthoring books about Indian history

Kishori Saran Lal (1920–2002), better known as K. S. Lal, was an Indian historian. He is the author of several works, mainly on the medieval history of India.


He obtained his master's degree in 1941 at the University of Allahabad. In 1945 he obtained his D.Phil. with a dissertation on the history of the Khaljis. This dissertation formed the basis for his book History of the Khaljis. He started his career as a Lecturer of History in the Allahabad University, though he served in this position only for a brief period.

From 1945 to 1963 he was with Madhya Pradesh Educational Service and taught at the Government Colleges at Nagpur, Jabalpur, and Bhopal. In 1963, he joined University of Delhi as a reader and taught Medieval Indian history in its History Department.

For the next ten years, starting 1973, he was the Professor and Head of the Department of History, first at the University of Jodhpur (1973–79), and then at the Central University of Hyderabad (1979–83).

Besides his mother tongue Hindi, he was fluent in Persian, Old Persian, Urdu, and other languages.

In 2001 he was appointed chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) and also placed on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) Committee to draft the model school syllabus on Indian History.[1]


  • History of the Khaljis (1950, 1967, 1980)
  • Twilight of the Sultanate (1963, 1980)
  • Studies in Asian History (edited – 1969)
  • Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India (1973) The book assesses the demographics of India between 1000 CE and 1500 CE. Simon Digby disputed Lal's study of the demographic situation in medieval India in a review in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Digby stated that estimate lacks accurate data in pre-census times.[2][3] Indian historian Irfan Habib criticized the book in 1978 in The Indian Historical Review. He described Lal's starting population figure as "a figment of the imagination of one scholar resting on nothing more tangible than the imagination of another", and faulted Lal for unexplained or faulty assumptions in his other population estimates.[4] K. S. Lal wrote a reply to Irfan Habib's criticism in 1979 in his book Bias in Indian Historiography (1979) and Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India (1999).
  • Early Muslims in India (1984)
  • The Mughal Harem (1988) ISBN 81-85179-03-4 is study on the history and nature of the Mughal Harem of medieval India. K.S. Lal writes about many obscure topics like the role of the Eunuchs and drugs like opium in the Mughal Harem.
  • Muslim Slave System in Medieval India (1994) [8] ISBN 81-85689-67-9
  • Historical essays
  • Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India (1999) ISBN 81-86471-72-3
  • Growth of Scheduled Tribes and Castes in Medieval India (1995)


Lal's early books were uncontroversial, and some of his books, such as History of the Khaljis and Twilight of the Sultanate, have been called "standard works."[9][10][11][12] Some of his later works were controversial, including allegation of being a spokesman for the RSS.[1] Lal himself noted: "As usual [my books] have been reviewed in journals in India and abroad, bestowing both praise and blame as per the custom of the reviewers. However, during the last fifteen years or so, some of my books have received special attention of a certain brand of scholars for adverse criticism."[13] The controversy surrounding these events is reflected in the theme of the discourses of his books which allegedly describe Muslims as foreigners, destructive barbarians and immoral degenerates,[14] Lal himself disputes these allegations, citing, in turn, that the ICHR has always been dominated by historians with a 'strong leftist bias' and that the current controversy is "merely the outcome of an exaggerated sense of pique on the part of the excluded Left wing".[15]

Historian Jeremy Black in his book Contesting History: Narratives of Public History (2014), referenced his book The Muslim Slave System in Medieval India as a "good modern work"; he also comments that K. S. Lal " is regarded as right-wing by Indian Muslim Marxist scholars".[16]

Irfan Habib in a dispute over positions at Indian Council of Historical Research remarks: "K.S. Lal may have written a worthwhile work of history in the distant past, but his more recent works - which have focussed almost exclusively on the supposed historical injuries suffered by Hindus - have been tendentious, communal and deeply objectionable."[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Delhi Historian's Group, Section 2. Part 3
  2. ^ Digby, Simon (1975). "Reviews: K. S. Lal: Growth of Muslim population in medieval India (A.D. 1000-1800)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 38 (1): 176–177. JSTOR 614231.
  3. ^ Digby, Simon (1975). Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. University of London. (1975), pp. 176177.
  4. ^ Habib, Irfan (January 1978). "Economic History of the Delhi Sultanate - An Essay in Interpretation". The Indian Historical Review. IV (2): 287–303.
  5. ^ "Indian Muslims - Who Are They". Bharatvani.org. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  6. ^ Review, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, Vol. 4, Part 3, November 1994, pp. 421-23.
  7. ^ K. S. Lal's riposte to the reviews, Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India, Aditya Prakashan, 1999, Chapter 7.
  8. ^ "Muslim Slave System in Medieval India". Bharatvani.org. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  9. ^ Times Literary Supplement, London, 19 December 1968.
  10. ^ A.A. Powell, Review of The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 58, No.2, (1995), pp. 397–8.
  11. ^ Peter Jackson in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, Third Series, Vol. 4, Part 3, November 1994, pp. 421–23.
  12. ^ Meenkakshi Jain 2002 Medieval India
  13. ^ Lal, K.S. Theory and Practice of Muslim State
  14. ^ India: International Religious Freedom Report 2005
  15. ^ The Hindutva takeover of ICHR,Frontline (4 July 1998)
  16. ^ Jeremy Black. Contesting History: Narratives of Public History. Bloomsbury Publishing; 13 March 2014. ISBN 978-1-4725-1953-5. p. 235.
  17. ^ Delhi, SUKUMAR MURALIDHARAN in New. "The Hindutva takeover of ICHR". Frontline. Retrieved 24 December 2020.