This book changes the way we look at the history of early medieval India (c. 600-1300 CE). Raising questions about per iodization, it highlights the complex and multilinker nature of historical processes in the subcontinent. Apart from analysing the theoretical debates, the nature of political systems, and urban and rural economy and society, the volume also discusses gender, religion, art, language and ideas, thereby expanding the lens through which we view the history of pre-Sultanate and non-Sultanate early medieval India.
The thought-provoking essays, along with the incisive and critical Introduction, will interest students and teachers of ancient and medieval Indian history.
The tripartite division of India's past into the Hindu, Muslim (or Mahtomedi/Mohammedan) and British periods is often seen as the invention and legacy of James Mill's History of British India (1817), but it was part of a much more pervasive perception among nineteenth century European scholars about India's past and present, one in which religion merged with other categories such as ethnicity, race, community and culture. The significant shift in the basis of the labels-from `Hindu' and 'Muslim' to 'British'-reflected an evolutionary perspective in which British rule marked a break that was qualitatively different from earlier ones, when centuries of backwardness and despotic rule, inextricably intertwined with religion, made way for enlightened governance. In this scheme of things, c. 600-1300, sliced through by the Ghaznavid invasions included the later part of the Hindu and the early part of the Muslim period. There were some more calibrated variations on the theme. For instance, writing in the early twentieth century, Vincent Smith divided India's past into five phases-the ancient period, Hindu period, the period of the medieval Hindu kingdoms, the Muslim period, and the British period, confidently asserting that these were self-evident divisions, not susceptible to any questioning.'
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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