Beyond the Kings and Brahmanas of 'Ancient' India: Everyday Lives, Everyday Histories

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Item Code: IDF615
Author: Uma Chakravarti
Publisher: Tulika Books
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8189487043
Pages: 328
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.9" X 6.5"
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Book Description
From the Back of the Book:

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).


Acknowledgement Xi
Note on Spelling and Style Xii
History as Practice: Introduction Xv
Representing 'Ancient' India
Whatever Happened to the Vedic Dasi?: Orientalism, Nationalism and a Script for the Past 3
Inventing Saffron History: A Celibate Hero Rescues an Emasculated Nation 39
Structures and processes
Towards a Historical Sociology of Stratification in Ancient India: Evidence from Buddhist Sources 59
Of Dasas and Karmakaras: Servile Labour in Ancient India 70
In Search of the Peasant in Early India: Was the Gahapati a Peasant Producer 101
The Social Philosophy of Buddhism and the Problem of Inquality 119
Conceptualizing Brahmanical Patriarchy in Early India: Gender, Caste, Class and State 138
Gender, Caste and Labour: Ideological and Material Structure of Widowhood 156
Reading the Past
Renouncer and Householder in Early Buddhism 183
Women, men and Beasts: The Jataka as Popular Tradition 198
The Development of the Sita Myth: A Case Study of Women in Myth and Literature 222
The Making and Unmaking of Tradition: The Ramayana Narrative in Two Moments 231
Exploring a No-Conflict Zone: Interest, Emotion and the Family in Early India 253
The World of the Bhaktin in South Indian Traditions: The Body and fBeyond 275
Works Cited 293
Glossary 311
Index 320

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