S.P. Gupta

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Swaraj Prakash Gupta (S. P. Gupta (स्वराज प्रकाश गुप्त), 1931–2007) was a well-known Indian archaeologist and art historian. He was a Chairman of the Indian Archaeological Society and worked as the Director of the Allahabad Museum.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Gupta was born in 1931. He became a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh during his childhood. He remained a bachelor throughout his life.[2]

Gupta was a scholar, writer and an authority on Indian art history. He has written articles and books on the subject. Gupta also undertook several archaeological excavations in Harappan sites. At the time of his death, he was the Chairman of the Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi, and he was busy establishing the Indian History and Culture Society as a full-fledged research centre.

Gupta worked and lectured in more than 30 countries of the world. He authored a number of books including Disposal of the Dead and Physical Types in Ancient India (1971), Tourism, Museums and Monuments (1975), Archaeology of Soviet Central Asia and the Indian Borderlands—two volumes (1978), The Roots of Indian Art (1980)—the French edition of which was published in 1990 and Cultural Tourism in India (2002). Gupta retired as the Director of the Allahabad Museum.

He was also the editor of several volumes of the Puratattva, the bulletin of the Indian Archaeological Society.


Art History and Culture

  • Tourism, Museums and Monuments (1975)
  • The Roots of Indian Art (1980) (French edition: 1990)
  • Cultural Tourism in India (S. P. Gupta and K. Lal), Indraprastha Museum of Art and Archaeology and D. K. Printworld, 2002, ISBN 8124602166.
  • Elements of Indian Art : Including Temple Architecture, Iconography and Iconometry (S. P. Gupta and S. P. Asthana) New Delhi: Indraprastha Museum of Art and Archaeology, 2002, ISBN 81-246-0213-1. [1]
  • Temples in India (S. P. Gupta and V. Somasekh) New Delhi: Centre for Research and Training in History, Archaeology and Paleo-Environment, 2010, ISBN 8124604959.

Archaeology and History

  • Disposal of the Dead and Physical Types in Ancient India (1971)
  • Mahabharata, Myth and Reality - Differing Views (S. P. Gupta and K. S. Ramachandran, ed.) Delhi: Agam Prakashan, 1976.
  • Archaeology of Soviet Central Asia and the Indian Borderlands (2 volumes) (1978)
  • 'Frontiers of the Indus Civilization (B. B. Lal and S. P. Gupta, Eds.). New Delhi: Indian Archaeological Society, 1984.
  • The lost Sarasvati and the Indus Civilization, Jodhpur: Kusumanjali Prakashan, 1984
  • The Indus-Sarasvati Civilization, Delhi: Pratibha Prakashan (1996).
  • Dimensions in Indian History and Archaeology (S. P. Gupta and K. S. Ramachandran, eds.) New Delhi: Indian History and lture Society, 1993.

Selected articles

  • S. P. Gupta. The dawn of civilization, in G. C. Pande (ed.)History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization ed., D. P. Chattophadhyaya, vol I Part 1) (New Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 1999)
  • In: India and South East Asia by R. C Majumdar
  • In: Costumes, textiles, cosmetics & coiffure in ancient and mediaeval India by Moti Chandra
  • In: Art & archaeology of India : stone age to the present by B. S Harishankar
  • In: An archaeological tour along the Ghaggar-Hakra River by Aurel Stein
  • In: Early sculptural art in the Indian coastlands : a study in cultural transmission and syncretism (300 BCE-CE 500) by Sunil Gupta


He was a distinguished archaeologist and art historian who was awarded several gold medals and the Sir Mortimer Wheeler Prize for excellence in archaeology. The first Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar National Award of Madhya Pradesh State Government was presented to the celebrated archaeologist S. P. Gupta in recognition of his devotion and contribution to archaeological research.[2]

The Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies has published a volume of papers in his honour.[3]


It is reported that B. B. Lal and S. P. Gupta, who were organisers of the World Archaeological Congress held in Delhi in December 1994, ensured that no discussion took place over the archaeology of Ayodhya. This resulted in a chaotic barrage of back-and-forth statements and press coverage without an open debate.[4] At the subsequent congress in 1998, a resolution was adopted condemning the demolition of the Babri Masjid and denouncing the infusion of "racial, religious or national chauvinist claims" into the profession or archaeology. Lal and Gupta tried unsuccessfully to block the resolution and walked out when the vote was taken.[5]

It has been mentioned that the Indian Archaeological Society, of which S. P. Gupta was the chairman, received considerable support from the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). The VHP organised a Press Conference ten days before the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) submitted its report to the Allahabad High Court regarding its excavations of Ayodhya, in which S. P. Gupta summarised the would-be contents of the report.[6]

  • Generally speaking, a temple is a 'Place of Worship'. It is also called the 'House of God'. However, for a Hindu, it is both and yet still more. It is the whole cosmos in the miniature form.
    • Elements of Indian Art (2002)
  • Indian art has been the product of Indian culture as the Greek art has been the product of Greek culture or the Roman art has been the product of Roman culture. Indian culture, however, has been the product of two streams of thoughts and practices, one, the Folk, belonging to the oral traditions operating at the folk level, in the villages, and, the other, classical, belonging to the sophisticated literary traditions, the former is sometimes called 'Lower Tradition' and the latter 'Higher Tradition'.
    • Elements of Indian Art (2002)


  1. "Dr. S. P. Gupta". D. K. Printworld. Retrieved 2014-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Noted archaeologist Dr S.P. Gupta is no more, Organiser, 14 October 2007 retrieved 2014-12-24
  3. Misra, V. N.; Kanungo, A. K. (2009). Dr. Swarajya Prakash Gupta : an academic and human profile. Pune: Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies. ISBN 9788190833004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bernbeck, Reinhard; Pollock, Susan (February 1996). "Ayodhya, Archaeology, and Identity". Current Anthropology. 37 (1): S138–S142. doi:10.1086/204467. JSTOR 2744239.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Hindutva takeover of ICHR". Frontline. 4 July 1998. Retrieved 2014-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Romey, Kristin M. (2004). "Flashpoint Ayodhya". Archaeology. 57 (4): 48–55. JSTOR 41780923.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>