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Gender, Religion and Local History: The Early Deccan

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Item Code: HAN966
Author: Aloka Parasher Sen
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9789355726599
Pages: 413 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5x6.5 INCH
Weight 682 gm
Book Description
About the Book

Gender, Religion and Local History: The Early Deccan straddles two areas of research, namely the study of women in a socio-religious context and images of the feminine that emerged as objects of worship. Based on a study of inscriptions, sculptural representations and archaeological and literary sources, the research in this volume is located in different local contexts that focus on gender and ideology in order to discern the dynamics of social change.
The seven chapters of the volume address diverse religious spaces-from the folk of the Lajja Gauris to the temple-based Hinduism of the nityasumangali and Chenchu Laksmi, from the evolution of orthodox Jaina attitudes to women's access to sallekhana and to the expanding Buddhist religious milieu in the midst of vibrant mithuna couples. This work demonstrates that ideology in local contexts was always open to adjustments and negotiation, while concomitantly being linked to pan-Indian conceptual foundations.
With a significant number of illustrations, this volume creates a web of local histories that focus on gender to enhance our understanding of resistance, transformation and continual change in the making of social, religious and cultural identities in communities of the early Deccan.

About the Author

Aloka Parasher Sen is Professor Emerita in the Department of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad, where she previously taught history for more than four decades. Her special focus on the historical milieu and archaeology of the Deccan, alongside her main area of interest in the social history of early India, namely early Indian attitudes towards foreigners, tribes and excluded castes, is reflected in her publications, notably Mlecchas in Early India (1991); Social and Economic History of Early Deccan: Some Interpretations (1993; repr. 2019); Subordinate and Marginal Groups in Early India up to 1500 AD (2004; 2nd edn. 2007); Religion and Modernity in India (2016, with Sekhar Bandhyopadhyay); Settlement and Local Histories of the Early Deccan (2021); and Seeking History through Her Source, South of the Vindhyas (2022).


THE GESTATION PERIOD for this book has been long. My interest in writing the history of localities and traditions of the early Deccan goes back to the early 1980s. My location in the heartland of the Deccan Plateau at the University of Hyderabad was important. Gradually, apart from teaching, research programmes evolved, and based on intense and lively interactions with students from the various regions and sub-regions of the Deccan, I embarked on the task of highlighting the particularities of the history of the Deccan, beginning with its early historical moorings. One of these included taking a close look at gender issues and their local ramifications.
The present book breaks the binary of looking at prescriptive strictures on women on the one hand, and religious thought and practice on the other. It includes discussion of ideas on the feminine as objects of worship, on how women participated in the religious traditions and the prescriptive rules on which women were questioned. Further, in doing so it breaks another binary of treating north and south in compartments, by simultaneously reflecting on how religious ideas were transplanted, transformed in regional situations but with emphasis on localities within the region. To accomplish the latter, I had to bring in archaeological, inscriptional and art historical material, apart from reflecting on the textual to highlight different dimensions of the study on gender and religion. Unlike some of the earlier studies, this volume is not exclusively about the position of women in early Indian society, but on how women transgressed religious norms and upheld them in some cases as well as generally how religious ideas defined gender relations in early India.

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