While most of the architects of India’s Independence took to politics, a handful of dedicated men and women took heed to Gandhi’s clarion call for commitment to selfless service at the grassroots. One such couple was of Shakuntala and Jagdish Chaudhary who left their city comforts to settle in a remote area of Bihar for a lifetime of struggle against ignorance and poverty. To such parents was Usha Kiran Khan born on October 24, 1945. Raised in an atmosphere seeped in Gandhian values, she was blessed by many a great scholar and thinker who frequented the hermitage of her parents. This gave her a unique exposure to some of the greatest minds of nascent India– Hajari Pd. Dwivedi, Sheelbhadra Yaji, Ramvriksh Benipuri, Nagarjun, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’, Jai Prakash Narayan to name just a few. She learned the value of the word– thought, spoken and written. She derived a unique sensibility which had a rare amalgam of her parents’ urbane personality with the flavour of the rural setting she had been transplanted to. This gave her a rich language which is a nuanced blend of high Sanskrit with rustic vernaculars.
With a postgraduate degree in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology from Patna University capped by a PhD in Asian Studies focused on the Culture of Mithila, she gained in stature as a scholar of worth. Her essays on cultural and historical geography of Bihar have been very well received and are collected in her book ” Sanskriti ka Kalpatr”. She taught Ancient Indian History and Archaeology at B. D. College under the aegis of Magadh University whence she retired as the Head of Department in 2005.