Irreverent History brings together essays in honour of Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, a historian who brought about a veritable shift in the paradigm of historiography in Kerala through his painstaking epigraphical research that led to the publication of his classic Perumals of Kerala (1972). A former Member-Secretary and Chair of the Indian Council of Historical Research, he has also made lasting contributions to Indian history and epigraphy more broadly. In all of his work, Narayanan has pursued a relentless quest for truth apart from fads in theory and expediencies in politics. That pursuit was carried out with a charm, originality, and boldness that nettled some, but, more importantly, encouraged many.
Following Narayanan's own interests, contributions to this volume explore first the history and culture of Kerala. A second section is then devoted to epigraphy and connected history. The volume is more than an homage to a groundbreaking scholar; it is also a monument to the influence of Professor Narayanan's ideas and work. It explores a wide range of topics from political myth, regional authority, traditional theatre, and religious ritual in Kerala to scribal cultures, caste histories, material exchange, and forms of political expression in India and beyond.
The volume will be useful for students of Indian history, especially those who seek to understand the nuances that have shaped what is today called 'God's Own Country'.
Kesavan Veluthat is currently Professor of History at the University of Delhi. He studied at the University of Calicut where M.G.S. Narayanan was his mentor. In 1982, he joined the newly formed Mangalore University and retired from there as Professor and Chair of the Department of History. His more important publications include Brahmana Settlements in Kerala (1978), The Early Medieval in South India (2010) and The Political Structure of Early Medieval South India (2012). He has also edited the Mahishasatakam (Sanskrit) and the Dictionarium Latino-Hystorico-Mythologico-Samscredonico, Malabaricum (Latin).
Donald R. Davis, Jr. is Associate Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions at the University of Texas at Austin. His primary research focuses on the history of law and religion in India, particularly Hindu law. He is the author of The Boundaries of Hindu Law: Tradition, Custom, and Politics in Medieval Kerala (2004) and The Spirit of Hindu Law (2010). While engaged in his field research, Davis worked with M.G.S. Narayanan for two years in Kozhikode.
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