chapter  2
33 Pages

Resistance and performance: native informant discourse in the biographies of Maharaja Sayaji Rao III (1863–1939) 1

WithJulie F. Codell

This chapter examines the case of the representation of the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayaji Rao III Gaekwar, who commissioned biographies of himself from his British employees, wrote directly to a British audience, travelled widely in Asia, England and America, modelled his administrative policies and practices on British and American public institutions and participated in Indian nationalist movements. Baroda’s greatest stability came from its landowning peasants whose official voice in the bureaucracy assured that there was much less peasant agitation in Baroda than in neighbouring Gujarat, though Sayaji Rao tolerated and employed nationalists who shared his resistance to the British. Ambiguities and contradictions saturate biographies of Sayaji Rao as they do the histories of Baroda. Philip Sergeant’s biographical subject fully participated in the Orientalizing discourse and employed it to distinguish himself from subaltern radicalism and from Gandhi, who so threatened the British. Sergeant joins British reformism and Indian nationalism in his theme of the statehood of India.