Libmonster ID: IN-1417

The last representative of the cohort of scientists who founded modern Russian indology has passed away.

The one-of-a-kind name emphasizes that this was an extraordinary woman. She was born in St. Petersburg, spent her childhood in the Moscow Kremlin, her adolescence in Brighton, went into exile in Tara on the Irtysh, and entered doctoral studies in Tashkent. But most of her life was spent in Moscow.

Koki Alexandrovna's mother Sofya Mikhailovna was a member of the RSDLP (b) from 1904, and in the 1920s she was secretary to G. E. Zinoviev, which affected her further fate. My father joined the party in April 1917. (the month is important; it meant pre-revolutionary experience, a special position in the party.) He was a journalist, became a foreign trade worker, and was sent to England. That's why Koka Alexandrovna graduated from high school in Brighton. Since then, she has been fluent in English, French and German. As an adult, she learned Persian, Urdu, Arabic and Spanish.

After returning to Moscow, Koka Alexandrovna entered the Faculty of History and Philology of Moscow State University, where she graduated in 1931. But, while still a student, she joined the International Agrarian Institute at the Krestintern. This institute played a special role in her life. In it, she not only began scientific work, but also met Vladimir Mikhailovich Popov, who later became a famous historian under the pseudonym Turk, and married him. V. M. Turok left a bright mark on the lives of all those who knew him. Their life together was happy and lasted almost half a century. They lived for each other and for their science. They became the first readers and first critics of each other's works.

In 1934-1935, K. A. Antonova worked at the Institute of World Economy and World Politics, whose director was E. S. Varga. Here she continued to work on agricultural projects.-

page 216

in Ireland and colonial politics in Canada and Australia, and India came "through" the problems of the British Empire.

In 1935, K. A. Antonova changed the nature of her scientific activity. She is entering graduate school at the Department of Colonial and Dependent Countries of Moscow State University. I. M. Reisner becomes her supervisor. This brilliant mind played an outstanding role in the development of K. A. Antonova as an indologist. Despite the fact that their approaches to the methods of studying India turned out to be different, and therefore the conclusions they came to were significantly different, Koka Alexandrovna always felt reverence and deep respect for I. M. Reisner and continued to consider him her teacher all her life.

His dissertation, "India under the General Government of Warren Hastings," was completed in December 1940 and was approved at WAKA before the war broke out. This is an extraordinary piece of luck, especially when you consider how the "happy" postgraduate years were spent.

The fact is that in 1937 Sofya Mikhailovna was arrested, and Koka Alexandrovna was sent to Siberia as a CHSIR ("a member of the family of a traitor to the Motherland", there was then such a category of Soviet citizens). Vladimir Mikhailovich decides to go with her. Two years later - "forgiveness", return to Moscow. The dissertation is defended, Koka Aleksandrovna becomes a candidate of sciences, which at that time were few. But I don't have an apartment, and I don't have a job. Koka Alexandrovna and Vladimir Mikhailovich go to meet friends and get by on odd jobs. In particular, Coca Antonova is preparing for publication K. Marx's manuscript "Chronological Extracts on the History of India". But this book was published after the war, so at that time K. A. Antonova did not receive any money for it. According to the customs of the time, the published book did not contain the names of those who worked on it. The preface was signed by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b).

In 1941, Koka Alexandrovna and Vladimir Mikhailovich leave for evacuation to Tashkent. There she began working at the Institute of Literature, Language and History of the Uzbek branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and then entered the doctoral program of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences, which was "registered" in Leningrad, but a significant part of it was evacuated to Central Asia. Koka Alexandrovna started learning Persian while still in exile in Tara, but here in Tashkent, she takes it seriously. She works with teachers, reads Persian-language Indian manuscripts, and develops a medievalist. Her phenomenal linguistic abilities allowed her to work on deciphering (otherwise it can not be called) radio interception. Radio operators who did not know any language other than their native language wrote down the Morse code transmitted in Latin in Cyrillic. The result was complete gibberish, which she read and translated from the sheet after several days of training. After returning to Moscow, she had many friends and colleagues in Central Asia and a strong love for skullcaps.

Together with a group of scientists from the Institute of Higher Education of the Academy of Sciences, K. A. Antonova returns to Moscow, but does not have time to finish her dissertation and again finds herself without a job.

I manage to get a job as a senior editor at the Fundamental Library for Social Sciences (FBON, now INION). Salary - 1070 rubles, approximately equal to the salary of a junior researcher without a degree. But two years at the FBON were fruitful. K. A. Antonova edits the bibliographic bulletin "New Foreign Literature on Oriental Studies", reads indological literature, saves many books received from Germany for reparations from being "stored", and finishes her dissertation. Judging by the description issued to her in connection with her transfer to the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences in 1950, she "conducted and conducts work that requires serious scientific qualification"; the bulletin "registers and annotates about 7,000 Oriental studies works a year in foreign languages". K. A. Antonova " contributes a lot to the preparation of this publication with her broad Oriental outlook, high efficiency and efficiency".

Then the streak of success begins. In June 1950, Koka Alexandrovna defended her doctoral dissertation " Akbar's Religious Policy (On the History of Indo-Muslim differences)", and immediately it turned out that the Institute of Oriental Studies was being transferred to Moscow, and its staff was significantly expanded. By order of August 9, 1950, six indologists headed by A. M. Dyakov, including Antonova, became the first employees of the India Sector, the embryo of the future India Department, the ancestor of the Center for Indian Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Since then, Koka Alexandrovna has not changed her place of work or sphere of interests.

page 217

Her book (Antonova, 1952) was the first monographic study of the Indian Middle Ages in our country. It was not received very happily, because it stood out sharply from the works of that time by the large volume of original sources used and the non-standard conclusions. Perhaps it also played a role that I. M. Reisner, the recognized head of the emerging school of Soviet indologists, felt aggrieved, since he had not yet defended his doctoral dissertation and did not have such a monograph to his credit. But Antonova's book was the cornerstone of subsequent research. On the one hand, its conclusions have been reflected in textbook texts for several decades. On the other hand, some of the provisions of the monograph caused objections and, as a result, the appearance of new works - articles and monographs. A creative atmosphere of mutual criticism was created, which the Institute's India Department was proud of.

Koka Alexandrovna's second book (Antonova, 1958) was a kind of response to the discussion that unfolded around her first monograph, as well as another discussion on the problems of evaluating colonial policy. It did not have the same fundamental significance as the first one, but it also served for a long time as the basis for our understanding of the initial period of colonialism.

Perhaps it can be said that at a time when the concept was most valued, K. A. Antonova gave priority to the facts given by sources.

The material accumulated during the work on these two monographs made it possible to write a number of generalizing works - chapters on the history of India in the XVI - early XIX centuries. In a number of collective monographs and textbooks [Novaya..., 1961; Istoriya..., 1968; Istoriya..., 1970; Antonova, 1973(2)]. The last of the listed works is the book turned out to be a bestseller and for many years served as something like a standard textbook for students of Oriental studies (and retains this value to this day, which can be considered a reproach to domestic indologists who have not yet managed to create such a textbook at a new level of knowledge). It was reprinted in 1979, and in the same year it was published again in two volumes, translated into English, French, and other European languages, as well as into a number of Indian languages.

K. A. Antonova's interest in the documentary basis of historical research was expressed primarily in her work on the publication of sources: Collections of documents [Russo-Indian Relations..., 1958; Russo-Indian Relations..., 1965], published under her editorship, shed new light on trade relations in Eurasia in the early Modern period. A small publication of Tipu Sultan's letters to the French governor in Mauritius [Borba..., 1962; Antonova, 1963] caused a sensation in India.

Especially interesting is the story of Claude Hugo's notes. G. G. Kotovsky, a great connoisseur of libraries and book repositories, once told Koka Alexandrovna that in the library of Lviv University there is an Old French manuscript concerning India. She went to Lviv, found this manuscript, made a copy and translated it into Russian. It turned out that this is the author's edited diary of the trip of dragoon captain Claude Hugo to India, where he served in the troops of Haidar Ali in 1770-1771. K. A. Antonova contacted the archives in Evreux and received a microfilm with hundreds of documents about this man, who, it turns out, was the president of the Criminal Tribunal of the Department of Evreux during the French Revolution. A fascinating essay about this man and a translation of his notes was published in 1977 [Hugo, 1977]. This work is still awaiting due evaluation by indologists.

Koka Alexandrovna was distinguished by an independent character, a sharp tongue, and therefore was always a thorn in the side of her superiors. She was left untouched only because of her rare diligence and efficiency of work. Her monographs and chapters in collective works showed a level of comprehension of the material that was difficult to counteract. She had no gift for persuading, capturing, or leading. But she had perseverance, perseverance, and the consciousness that she was standing on solid ground of facts, given sources. To convince her of something, it took a huge effort, substantial evidence.

Among the most important propositions that she defended in her dispute with the Reisner School (which was essentially the entire Department of India) was the thesis that there were no capitalist relations in medieval India, not even the rudiments of them. This denial was disputed by V. I. Pavlov and E. N. Komarov, as well as "semi-talented youth" (as V. I. Pavlov called L. B. Alaev and A. I. Chicherov). She fought back [see Antonova, 1957; Antonova 1962]. But the time

page 218

As time went on, K. A. Antonova's opponents grew up. V. I. Pavlov abandoned the idea of the genesis of capitalism in medieval India and became even more pessimistic about its fate than Koka Alexandrovna had ever been. L. B. Alaev also revised his views and became a supporter of the"feudal impasse". E. N. Komarov did not deal with this problem since the 1950s, but also clearly moved away from the previous positions. A. I. Chicherov drifted towards recognizing the deep backwardness of pre-colonial Indian society. Only K. Z. Ashrafyan remained committed to the idea of the beginning of the development of capitalism in India in the pre-colonial period until the end of her days. In 1973, K. A. Antonova had the rare pleasure of dancing a cancan "on the bones" of her defeated opponents. Antonova, 1973 (1)]1.

Another idea expressed by Coca Alexandrovna and for a long time did not find understanding is the idea of the multiplicity of land ownership rights under feudalism in general and in Mughal India in particular. It should be clarified that at that time the dogma prevailed, according to which property serves as the basis of production relations, and, therefore, under feudalism, the feudal lord was the owner of land, and the peasant, by definition, did not have property. There is a "monopoly of the feudal class on land ownership". K. A. Antonova saw that the ownership rights to land were held by both those who were considered feudal lords (jagirdars, zamindars, etc.) and those who were considered peasants (taxpayers, community members). Thus, without stating it directly, it opposed the thesis of the monopoly of the feudal class on land, and this was in 1952, i.e. immediately after the publication of J. V. Stalin's pamphlet "Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR", where it was stated in a directive tone that it was precisely feudal ownership of land (and not personal relations) was the basis of feudalism. L. B. Alaev sharply criticized Antonova's formulations from the standpoint of dogma [Alaev, 1964, p. 160-161], but at that time none of the scientific authorities in power noticed either the unorthodox thesis or its criticism.

The originality of her understanding of the problems of the Eastern Middle Ages was also reflected in the fact that she did not succumb to the idea of the decomposition of state ownership of land and the development of private ownership, which was fashionable in the 1950s. This idea is not found in the 1952 monograph, nor in the 1958 monograph, nor in subsequent works. K. A. Antonova staunchly endured accusations that there is no dynamics in her works, that Indian society looks motionless under her pen. Yes, it should be admitted that she did not see the dynamics, and she did not consider it necessary to invent it in order to please the scientific and political conjuncture.

Finally, contrary to the usual practice at that time, K. A. Antonova did not find abusive words in relation to the British agricultural policy in India. She noted all its negative consequences, but believed that the colonialists ' intentions were quite progressive: to introduce bourgeois private ownership of land. She was also criticized by her colleagues for this wording.

At the end of her life, Koka Alexandrovna thought a lot about whether she made any contribution to Russian science, or whether all her work went down the drain, because it was based on Marxism, a doctrine that turned out to be untenable. "I was overcome with despair: did I really not do anything useful in the field to which I devoted my life, was all I worked on was monkey work?" [Antonova, 2000, p.130]. To us, her friends who have spoken to her in recent years, it seems that she passed away, coming to the comforting conclusion that her work will not be left in vain. Her memoirs, published in the magazine " Vostok (Oriens)", will serve as an important source for studying the Soviet period of the evolution of Oriental studies. They are written vividly, fascinatingly, filled with living people and, in particular, show that Koka Alexandrovna lived by her work and scientific ideas until her last days. They are imbued with optimism and a belief in the futility of scientific efforts. One of her most remarkable traits was an inner, completely sincere, natural modesty: "I always, as it seems to me, soberly assessed my abilities and capabilities and considered myself a conscientious middle peasant. This means that I did not cheat, did not shy away from any work, did not chase money, and my work met the requirements. However, I was not talented: a talent must be at least one or two steps ahead of its time, and my actions fit into its framework" [Antonova, 1991, N 1, p.152].

1 See the historiographical overview of this discussion: [Alaev, 2000].

page 219

K. A. Antonova considered her last scientific work to be the disassembly and systematization of the V. M. Turok archive and the transfer of documents for storage to the RAS Archive.

Despite her passion for her work, Koka Alexandrovna had a lot of other interests. Her room was always littered with books - not just her specialty, but all sorts of other things. She could spend hours reciting poems in different languages by heart. I especially loved detective stories and collected a large collection of them. She was an avid cat lover. She wrote poetry, including rather sarcastic epigrams on colleagues. This was what she liked to do in boring meetings. One of her hobbies was traveling. She toured the entire Soviet Union, managed to visit India, as well as several countries of Eastern Europe, "socialist countries", as they were then called. From all the trips, she brought a lot of photos, which she then showed, accompanied by comments, to friends. Until her old age, she rode a bicycle, did swimming and gymnastics. The kind of eccentricity that put many people off was not a pose, it was a trait of her character that she did not think it necessary to hide. Those who were able to ignore it were rewarded with a conversation with the most interesting person.

Koka Alexandrovna lived a long life (remember K. Chukovsky: "You have to live long in Russia"), filled with hard work and worries, as well as joys and successes. She knew great love, was passionate about her work, was surrounded by numerous friends, and left a noticeable mark in science. Even those who didn't know her personally won't forget her.

list of literature

L. B. Alaev the Problem of the level of development of India by the beginning of the new time in Soviet historiography, the 50 - 90s // India and the world. Collection of articles in memory of A.M. Chicherov, Moscow: Muravey-Gaid, 2000.

Alaev L. B. Southern India. Socio-economic history of the XIV-XVIII centuries, Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1964.

Antonova K. A. Ocherki obshchestvennykh otnosheniy i politicheskogo stroya Mughal'skoy Indii vremena Akbar (1556-1605) [Essays on Public Relations and the political system of Mughal India in the time of Akbar (1556-1605)].

Antonova K. A. On the genesis of capitalism in India // Soviet Oriental Studies. 1957. N 6.

Antonova K. A. English conquest of India in the XVIII century. Moscow, 1958.

Antonova K. A. On the genesis of capitalism in India // On the genesis of capitalism in the countries of the East (XV-XIX centuries). Moscow: IVL, 1962.

Antonova K. A. Novye archivnye dokumenty o bor'be Tipu Sultana protiv angliiskikh zavadchikov v kontse XVIII v. [New archival documents on Tipu Sultan's struggle against the English invaders at the end of the 18th century].

Antonova K. A. Sovetskie indologi o prichinakh pliati Mogolskoy imperii [Soviet Indologists on the reasons for the fall of the Mughal Empire]. Ocherki ekonomicheskoi i sotsial'noy istorii Indii [Essays on the Economic and Social History of India], Moscow: GRVL, 1973(1).

Antonova K. A., Bongard-Levin G. M., Kotovsky G. G. Istoriya Indii [History of India]. Moscow: 1973(2).

Antonova K. A. We are Orientalists... / / Vostok (Oriens). 1991. N 1, 3.

Antonova K. A. We are Orientalists... / / Vostok (Oriens). 1992, N 2, 4, 5.

Antonova K. A. We are Orientalists... / / Vostok (Oriens). 2000. N 4.

Tipu Sultan's struggle against the English colonialists (New archival materials. Publication and foreword by K. A. Antonova) / / Peoples of Asia and Africa. 1962. N 6.

Hugo, Claude. Notes on India. Translated from the French manuscript, notes and introductory article by K. A. Antonova, Moscow: GRVL, 1977.

The history of India in the Middle Ages. L. B. Alaev, K. A. Antonova, and K. Z. Ashrafyan, Moscow: IVL Publ., 1968.

A. M. Goldobin, D. I. Goldberg, and I. P. Petrushevsky, Istoriya stran zarubezhnoi Azii v sredniye veka [History of the countries of Foreign Asia in the Middle Ages], Moscow: GRVL, 1970.

New History of India / Ed. by K. A. Antonov, N. M. Goldberg, and A.M. Osipov, Moscow: IVL, 1961.

Russo-Indian relations in the 17th century Collection of documents / Ed. by K. A. Antonov, N. M. Goldberg, T. D. Lavrentsova. Moscow: IVL, 1958.

Russo-Indian relations in the 18th century Collection of documents, Moscow: GRVL, 1965.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LIndia LWorld Y G


Kahri JammaContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

L. B. ALAEV, T. N. ZAGORODNIKOVA, COCA ALEXANDROVNA ANTONOVA (1910-2007) // Delhi: India (ELIB.ORG.IN). Updated: 07.07.2024. URL: (date of access: 21.07.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - L. B. ALAEV, T. N. ZAGORODNIKOVA:

L. B. ALAEV, T. N. ZAGORODNIKOVA → other publications, search: Libmonster IndiaLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
0 votes
Related Articles
15 hours ago · From Kahri Jamma
15 hours ago · From Kahri Jamma
15 hours ago · From Kahri Jamma
2 days ago · From Kahri Jamma
2 days ago · From Kahri Jamma
2 days ago · From Kahri Jamma
2 days ago · From Kahri Jamma
3 days ago · From Kahri Jamma
3 days ago · From Kahri Jamma
4 days ago · From Kahri Jamma

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

ELIB.ORG.IN - Indian Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: IN LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Indian Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2023-2024, ELIB.ORG.IN is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Preserving the Indian heritage


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android