M. G. S. Narayanan

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MGS Narayanan
M.G.S Narayanan.jpg
Born Muttayil Govindamenon Sankara Narayanan
(1932-08-20) August 20, 1932 (age 84)
Nationality Indian
Occupation Historian

Muttayil Govindamenon Sankara Narayanan, born on 20 August 1932, more popularly known as MGS, is an Indian historian, academic and a former Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (2001–03).[1]

He was Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellow, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1974 –75); Visiting Fellow, Universities of Moscow and Leningrad (1991); Visiting Research Professor, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo (1994–95).[2]

Narayanan is among the few southern Indian historians known nationally and internationally. He is a scholar of southern Indian history, Kerala history, in particular.[1] He is also a specialist in ancient Indian history.[3]

Narayanan is the current Director General of Centre for Heritage Studies, Cochin.

Early life and education[edit]

Muttayil Govindamenon Sankara Narayanan was born at Ponnani, Malabar district on 20 August 1932. He had his early education at Parappanangadi, Ponnani, Calicut and Thrissur. He later moved to Madras (present day Chennai) to pursue his master's degree in History from Madras Christian College. He topped the University of Madras in his Post-Graduation in 1953 and later went on to complete his PhD from the University of Kerala in 1973. His 1972 thesis titled Perumals of Kerala was published in 2013.

He studied ancient scripts like Brahmi, Vattezhuttu and Grantha and is well versed in Classical Sanskrit and ancient Southern Indian scripts.

Academic career[edit]

MGS Narayanan started his academic career in 1965 at the Post-Graduation Centre of Kerala University at Calicut. Later, when the University of Calicut was established in 1968, he served in the Department of History in various positions before retiring in 1992 as Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, a post he held from 1970.

He held academic positions in MG University, Kottayam and Mangalore University in India and also served abroad in various foreign universities, notable among them being the Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow University, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.[1]

MGS served as First Member Secretary of the Indian Council of Historical Research under Irfan Habib in 1990-92 and later as its Chairman from July 2001 to December 2003. Even though his nomination to the coveted Chairman post (by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party-lead coalition government in Delhi) had raised some controversy, mainly in his home state of Kerala, it was by and large welcomed by academic circles all over India.[4] It was alleged that the "ouster" of MGS Narayanan as Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research in late 2003 was a part of the Ministry of Human Resource Development's scheme to "saffronise" the agenda in academia.[5]

Since 1969, he was member of Executive Committee of the Indian History Congress and later went on to become its General Secretary during 1982-85. He was President of Indian History and Culture Society (2001) and member of academic bodies like Journal of Indian History, Indian Historical Review etc.

Research and publications[edit]

He has published numerous research papers in Indian and international journals. In 1994 he served as chief-editor of Malabar, a compilation of research extracts brought out over the last century. He was also an observer in excavations at Cranganore (1969–70) and discovered and published the Bindusara Brahmi inscription of Sanchi and many medieval Vattezhuttu inscriptions of Kerala.

The more prominent among his works include:[6]

  • Cultural Symbiosis in Kerala (1972)
  • Aspects of Aryanisation in Kerala (1973)
  • Re-Interpretations in South Indian History (1977)
  • Historical Studies in Kerala (1976) - co-authored with KKN Kurup
  • The People's Plan: a Debate on Kerala's Decentralised Planning Experiment (1997) - co-authored with NP Chekkutty
  • Foundations of South Indian Society and Culture (1994)
  • Kerala Through the Ages (co-authored; 1976)
  • Perumals of Kerala (1996)
  • Calicut: The City of Truth Revisited (2006)
  • Perumals of Kerala. Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy (2013)

He has also published many books in Malayalam, including:

  • India Charitra Parichayam (1969)
  • Sahitya Aparadhangal (1970)
  • Kerala Charitrathinte Adisthaana Silakal (1971 & 2001)
  • Kozhikkodinte Katha (2001)
  • Vanjeri Grandhavari (1987)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c G.N. PRASHANTH On the wrong side of Left? [1] The Hindu 16 June 2003
  2. ^ MGS Narayanan (Profile) University of Calicut
  3. ^ T.K. RAJALAKSHMI CONTROVERSY: Appointment and disappointment Frontline Volume 18 - Issue 15, Jul. 21 - Aug. 03, 2001 [2]
  4. ^ Historian with a difference Mar 05, 2002 The Hindu Historian with a difference
  5. ^ T.K. RAJALAKSHMI ICHR: Removing an irritant Frontline Volume 20 - Issue 26, December 20, 2003 [3]
  6. ^ Google Books (InAuthor: MGS Narayanan)

Further reading[edit]