This volume of essays moves the historiography of ancient India in the service of a history of the present. The cultural onslaught of a Brahmanical saffron culture within popular discourse, and the fight against entered class and caste interests led by women, details and other marginalized groups, frame this battle for 'ancient' India. Through an in-depth analysis of myths and original sources the author provides novel grounds for contesting the foundations of such charged concepts as nation, civilization and womanly honour. Reading against the grain of canonical sources, she presents a distinctive reading of lesser known Buddhist Pali texts, the Jataka Stories and even contemporary texts like the television serials Chanakya and Ramayana to demostrate the stratifications in early Indian society.
The book brings to light several crucial concepts and categories that make possible a sensitive delineation of social alinmation, class antagonism and gendered violence in ancient Indian society. The everyday histories of dasas, karmakaras, agrihinis, bhaktins and gahapatis provide an understanding of ancient India away from the clichéd invocations of ideal kings brahmanas and pativratas.
About the Author:
Uma Chakravarti taught history at Miranda House College, University of Delhi. Her publications include Delhi Riots: Three Days in the Life of a Notion, The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism (1987), Rewriting History: the life and times of Pandita Ramabhai (1998),from Myths to Markets: Essays on Gender and Gendering Caste: Through a Feminist Lens (2003).
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