PURUSHOTTAM AGRAWAL is a New Delhi based writer and literary historian. He works on Bhakti, spirituality without religion, and India's organic early modernity which, he argues, was halted in its tracks by colonization. His work draws upon sources in Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Braj and Awadhi.
Padmavat is an epic about a woman. It is named after Padmavati, princess of Simhal, and not after her lover and husband, Ratansen-king of Chinon Padmavati's friend, philosopher and guide is Hiraman-a parrot. Besides Padmavati there is also Nagmati-Ratansen's first wife. This tale of two women and their husband who are tormented by Alauddin Khalji is told by a man. Who was this man?
Malik Muhammad Jayasi (circa late-fifteenth-mid-sixteenth century CE) was one of the foremost poets of early modern vernacular literature in north India. Many people still insist on describing this period as 'medieval' as 'modernity' is supposed to have emerged in Indian history only as a result of colonial rule. But this view has been challenged over some decades by many historians, and now a large number of scholars prefer to describe the period from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century as 'early modern.
To explain the point briefly-modernity is not merely about industrialization and fully evolved capitalism. As a matter of fact, the emergence of modern attitudes precedes industrialization and capitalism. Modernity is first reflected in the change of attitudes and the spread of commerce. Merchants and artisans look for avenues and openings in liberal outlooks. For instance, Dharamdas, one of the most important figures in the history of the Kabir Panth and the founder of one of its branches, was a merchant. Belief in rigid social hierarchies is challenged in favour of recognizing the inherent worth of every individual. The relationship of a human being not only with his/her immediate surroundings, but also with the universe and God is redefined. The spread of commerce leads to a weakening of exclusionist ideas of social behavior. Attitudes towards tradition acquire a more reflective stance instead of a submissive one. The recognition of the worth of the individual, centrality of human principle and a re-evaluation of tradition-these are essential features of modernity. In the early modern era, even those who had a conservative attitude reworked traditional ideas. Tulsidas's idea of Ram Rajya is a case in point.
Modernity is not something which emerged only in Western Europe and was later exported to other parts of the world. In Europe, right at the beginning of the second millennium, the authority of the Roman Catholic Church was challenged by many 'millenarian' movements and uprisings. They were rooted in the Biblical forecasts of the return of Christ at the end of the millennium. These uprisings were brutally suppressed. But the Protestant movements led by Martin Luther and John Calvin in the sixteenth century proved too much for the Catholic Church to suppress. For literature and culture, the most important fallout of these movements was the rise of 'vernacular' languages as a medium of religious discourse. The Protestants translated the 'word of God' (the Bible) in people's languages, thus challenging the monopoly of the Latin-speaking elite over it. Simultaneously, there was a renaissance in the arts, reflecting and contributing to far-reaching changes in the social and cultural attitudes.
But, decreased influence of 'classical' and the rise of vernacular were not confined to Europe alone. 'Early modern' changes took place in other parts of the world almost simultaneously. China witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in vernacular creativity from the mid-fourteenth to mids (the Ming dynasty. The intricate, class to accessible and popular novels, she These works drew their themes not the experiences of common people. on psychological insights than on did of human emotions and situations. witnessed great innovations in art al known worldwide today, developed d Keeping these changes in mind, it described as a 'Vernacular Millen narratives reflecting cultural merry in vernacular languages. It is imp Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas, Adhyat by Ezhuthachan or Mahabharata (0 translations of Valmiki's Ramayana These, and other such works, are retell in accordance with the temperament c intent and thought-content, they are Unfortunately, we have internalized of Indian history. As a result, we look as a period of intellectual stagnation 1 implying that hardly any new ideas of and culture developed during this pie is that a lot of new ideas grew and ' one example, in this period, Krishna] king of Vijyanagar-composed Am containing reflections on the state and `Vernacular Millennium' was a per and imaginative production in verity his/her immediate and God is redefined. In reach of exclusionist ideas diction acquire a more one. The recognition y of human principle are essential features :van those who had a ideas. Tulsidas's idea of erged only in Western of the world. In Europe, inium, the authority of d by many 'millenarian' [ in the Biblical forecasts indium. These uprisings ant movements led by nineteenth century proved press. For literature and :.se movements was the k of religious discourse. d' (the Bible) in people's v of the Latin-speaking renaissance in the arts, g changes in the social Id the rise of vernacular modern' changes took simultaneously. China n vernacular creativity story from the mid-fourteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries under the Ming dynasty. The intricate, classical poetic forms gave way to accessible and popular novels, short stories and travelogues. These works drew their themes not from royal lives but from the experiences of common people. There was more emphasis on psychological insights than on divine factors in descriptions of human emotions and situations. In Japan too, this period witnessed great innovations in art and literature. Haiku poetry, known worldwide today, developed during this period.
Keeping these changes in mind, the last millennium has been described as a 'Vernacular Millennium. In India, traditional narratives reflecting cultural memories were reconstructed in vernacular languages. It is important to remember that Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas, Adhyatama Ramayan (Malayalam) by Ezhuthachan or Mahabharata (Odia) by Sarala Das are not translations of Valmiki's Ramayana and Vyasa's Mahabharata. These, and other such works, are retellings of the age-old narratives in accordance with the temperament of the times. In their creative intent and thought-content, they are original works.
Unfortunately, we have internalized the colonial reconstruction of Indian history. As a result, we look at the second millennium as a period of intellectual stagnation or an 'age of commentaries, implying that hardly any new ideas of the individual, society, state and culture developed during this period. The fact of the matter is that a lot of new ideas grew and were circulated. To cite just one example, in this period, Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1530) - king of Vijyanagar-composed Amuktamalyada (in Telugu), containing reflections on the state and kingship.
`Vernacular Millennium' was a period of exciting intellectual and imaginative production in vernacular languages and in
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
Item Code: NAQ483 Author: Purushottam Agrawal Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 2018 Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9789353040239 Language: English Size: 8.00 X 5.00 inch Pages: 206 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0 Kg