HINDU-MUSLIM INTERACTIONS IN medieval and early modern India have been mostly studied in monolithic or antagonistic terms. This volume not only explores the multiplicity within a given religious tradition but also focuses on the exchanges across the various religious communities in north India from AD 1500 to 1800- thereby presenting a panoramic view of religious interactions during the period broadly regarded as Mughal.
Drawing on a wide range of sources, the essays in this volume focus on Islamicate and Hindu traditions in their interactions with one another. They interrogate the idea of "Hindu" and "Muslim" as polarized religious identities existing from the moment Muslims entered north India in the eleventh century, and discuss the close intertwining of religious traditions with political power, while also highlighting the diversity of traditions in active conversation with one another.
Given the contentious nature of Hindu-Muslim relations today,a fresh study of these traditions in their regional and temporal specificities, along with a renewed attempt to closely interrogate the language employed in describing them, is vital toward contesting contemporary"clash of civilizations" narratives in South Asia as well as elsewhere.
Vasudha Dalmia was Chandrika and Ranjan Trandon Professor of Hindu Studies at Yale University between 2012 and2014. Before that she taught at Tuebingen University (Germany) and the University of California-Berkeley where she was the Catherine and William L.Magistretti Distinguished Professor in the Depatrtment of South and Southeast Asian Studies. Her areas of research and religion, Literature, and theatre in South Asia, especially in early modern and modern north India.
Munis D.Faruqui is Associate Professor, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California-Berkeley. His research focuses on the Muslim experience in south Asia, especially during the Mughal period.
The idea of bringing together a small group of people to talk about a period in subcontinental history during which religion experienced a dramatic resurgence came up in conversations, at first tentative but then increasingly intense, which we, the editors of this volume, began having soon after Munis Faruqui was hired as the first historian of South Asian Islam at UC-Berkeley's Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies in 2005. Over the next couple of years our discussion became deeper and more specific as we contemplated out knowledge. There was great excitement in learning from each other; at the same time, we began to see that our conversations would and should be further enriched by the work of other scholars of late medieval India. And so it was that we began to plan toward a winder forum. This forum turned out to be a conference-titled "Hunoodwa Musalman: Religion in Mughal India"-held in the Department in October 2008. The essays in this volume are based on that Conference.
Guiding our 2008 conference was an appreciation of previous notable attempts to wrestle with the history of Hindus and Muslims in this period of Indian history. Among the most significant was a conference held in 1995 at Duke University. It resulted in an edited volume titled Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia (University of Florida Press, 2000). This volume considers a vast span of Indian history, from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries; it aspires to cover the entire subcontinent, and it seeks to historicize Indo-Islamicate identities, Indeed, its broad time span, geographical reach, and almost exclusive focus on issues pertaining to Islamicate identity are the great strength of this remarkable and innovative volume. Subsequent to our own conference in 2008, another conference, with a similar theme, was held at Oxford University in the summer of 2009. Many of our participants took part in this conference as well, feeding one into the other, so to speak. The proceedings were published soon thereafter, affording us the opportunity to glean yet more insights from the many excellent essays published there. As we see it, however, the balance tends to tip in one or the other direction in both volumes. If there are more essays on Islamic formations in Beyond Turk and Hindu, there is more discussion of Hindu formations in Beyond Turk and Hindu, There is more discussion of Hindu formations in Religious Cultures in Early Modern India.
We have tried to retain some balance between the two while maintaining a sharp focus on the nature of religious interactions, the theme of our 2008 conference. In this volume then, we explore the dynamics of religious and social contacts, less in terms of "Hunood" and "Musalman" as two mutually exclusive entities, more in that of the groups which have now come to be classified under these two heads, as they reacted to and interacted with each other, while at the same time being acted upon, and responding to, a range of political, economic, and social forces. Our focus is on north India and primarily the first two centuries of Mughal rule, with all awareness that the boundaries in time and space that are thus drawn can only be arbitrary.
As the discussions at our 2008 conference so clearly highlighted, the changing nature of Mughal-Rajput-Jat-Maratha relations and their power equations greatly impacted Muslim-Hindu relationships as well as their understandings of each other. Crucially, memories changed with changing power relations. Thus, we pay careful attention to questions not only of memory but also to the nature of the sources we are drawing upon. Other questions that have variously guided us as we Initially as special issue of the journal South Asian History and Culture followed by the book Religious Cultures in Early Modern India: New Perspectives, (xxxxxx) Rosalind O'Hanlon and David Washbrook ( London, New York, New Delhi: Routledge, 2011). We would have liked to include Jains and Sikhs in our discussion: this was not possible for various reasons. Worked on our respective articles included: How did Political Power and legitimacy relate to knowledge and knowledge communities, Islamic and Brahminical? What were the various communities of (religious) authority? To what extent were they textual"? From what arenas did they emerge? How did the development of independent networks- economic, urban/merchant, ascetic/monastic-not wholly controlled or controllable by the state, play into religious configurations and their formation? How did cogitations at the top reverberate, if at all, at the regional and local levels? Did they circulate or linger (for instance, Dara Shukoh's religious interventions) even after they had ceased to figure at the top? Significantly, as the answers to some of these questions have come into sharper focus they have allowed us to more clearly appreciate: (a) the centrality of pre-existing and deeply sedimented historiographies in posing obstacles to new kinds of enquiries, and (b) the role of pan-Indian political, social, and economic developments in shaping religious trajectories.
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