India is a land of enormous diversity. Cross-cultural influences are everywhere in evidence, in the food people eat, the clothes they wear, and in the places they worship. This was especially the case in the India that existed from 1200 to 1750, before the European intervention. The book takes the reader on a journey across the political, economic, religious and cultural landscapes of medieval India, from the Ghurid conquests and the Dehli Sultanate to the great court of the Mughals. This was a time of conquest and consolidation, when Muslims and Hindus came together to create a unique culture which still resonates in today's India. As the first survey of its kind in over a decade, the book is a tour de force. It is beautifully illustrated and fluently composed, with a cast of characters which will educate students and general readers alike.
This book explores the dynamic interaction between economic life, society and civilisation in the regions around and beyond the Indian Ocean during the period from the rise of Islam to 1750. Within a distinctive theory of comparative history, Professor Chaudhuri analyses how the identity of different Asian civilisations was established. He examines the structural features of food habits, clothing, architectural styles and housing; the different modes of economic production; and the role of crop raising, pastoral nomadism, and industrial activities for the main regions of the Indian Ocean. In an original and perceptive conclusion, the author demonstrates how Indian Ocean societies were united or separated from one another by a conscious cultural and linguistic identity. However, there was a deeper structure of unities created by a common ecology, technology, technology of economic production, traditions of government, theory of political obligations and rights, and a shared historical experience. His theory enables the author to show that the real Indian Ocean was an area that extended historically from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to the sea which lies beyond Japan.
Asia Inside Out reveals the dynamic forces that have linked regions of the world’s largest continent. Connected Places, the second of three volumes, highlights the flows of goods, ideas, and people across natural and political boundaries and illustrates the confluence of factors in the historical construction of place and space.
This book critically evaluates and supports the argument for adopting an inter-cultural or comparative approach in western political theory. The analysis of encounters between Europeans and their eastern others before the European Enlightenment illustrates that adopting an inter-cultural perspective in western political theory is necessary because West's cultural others have played a foundational role in developing a distinct western cultural self-understanding.
Religious authority and political power have existed in complex relationships throughout India’s history. The centuries of the ‘early modern’ in South Asia saw particularly dynamic developments in this relationship. Regional as well as imperial states of the period expanded their religious patronage, while new sectarian centres of doctrinal and spiritual authority emerged beyond the confines of the state. Royal and merchant patronage stimulated the growth of new classes of mobile intellectuals deeply committed to the reappraisal of many aspects of religious law and doctrine. Supra-regional institutions and networks of many other kinds - sect-based religious maths, pilgrimage centres and their guardians, sants and sufi orders - flourished, offering greater mobility to wider communities of the pious. This was also a period of growing vigour in the development of vernacular religious literatures of different kinds, and often of new genres blending elements of older devotional, juridical and historical literatures. Oral and manuscript literatures too gained more rapid circulation, although the meaning and canonical status of texts frequently changed as they circulated more widely and reached larger lay audiences. Through explorations of these developments, the essays in this collection make a distinctive contribution to a critical formative period in the making of India’s modern religious cultures. This book was published as a special issue of South Asian History and Culture.
For countless generations families have lived in isolated communities in the Godavari Delta of coastal Andhra Pradesh, learning and reciting their legacy of Vedas, performing daily offerings and occasional sacrifices. They are the virtually unrecognized survivors of a 3,700-year-old heritage, the last in India who perform the ancient animal and soma sacrifices according to Vedic tradition. In Vedic Voices, David M. Knipe offers for the first time, an opportunity for them to speak about their lives, ancestral lineages, personal choices as pandits, wives, children, and ways of coping with an avalanche of changes in modern India. He presents a study of four generations of ten families, from those born at the outset of the twentieth century down to their great-grandsons who are just beginning, at the age of seven, the task of memorizing their Veda, the Taittiriya Samhita, a feat that will require eight to twelve years of daily recitations. After successful examinations these young men will reside with the Veda family girls they married as children years before, take their places in the oral transmission of a three-thousand-year Vedic heritage, teach the Taittiriya collection of texts to their own sons, and undertake with their wives the major and minor sacrifices performed by their ancestors for some three millennia. Coastal Andhra, famed for bountiful rice and coconut plantations, has received scant attention from historians of religion and anthropologists despite a wealth of cultural traditions. Vedic Voices describes in captivating prose the geography, cultural history, pilgrimage traditions, and celebrated persons of the region. Here unfolds a remarkable story of Vedic pandits and their wives, one scarcely known in India and not at all to the outside world.
Rigid notions of masculinity are causing crisis in the global Islamic community. These are articulated from the Qur'an, its commentary, historical precedents and societal, religious and familial obligations. Some Muslims who don't agree with narrow constructs of manliness feel forced to consider themselves secular and therefore outside the religious community. In order to evaluate whether there really is only one valid, ideal Islamic masculinity, The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities explores key figures of the Qur'an and Indian-Pakistani Islamic history, and exposes the precariousness of tight constraints on Islamic manhood. By examining Qur'anic arguments and the strict social responsibilities advocated along with narrow Islamic masculinities, Amanullah De Sondy shows that God and women (to whom Muslim men relate but are different from) often act as foils for the construction of masculinity. He argues the constrainers of masculinity have used God and women to think with and to dominate through and that rigid gender roles are the product of a misguided enterprise: the highly personal relationship between humans and God does not lend itself to the organization of society, because that relationship cannot be typified and replicated. Discussions and debates surrounding Islamic masculinities are quickly finding their place in the study of Islam and Muslims, and The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities makes a vital contribution to this emerging field.
Reading the life narratives and literary texts of South Asians writing in and about East Africa, Gaurav Desai builds a surprising, alternative history of Africa's experience with slavery, migration, colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. Consulting Afrasian texts that are literary and nonfictional, political and private, he broadens the scope of African and South Asian scholarship and inspires a more nuanced understanding of the Indian Ocean's fertile routes of exchange. Desai shows how the Indian Ocean engendered a number of syncretic identities and shaped the medieval trade routes of the Islamicate empire, the early independence movements galvanized in part by Gandhi's southern African experiences, the invention of new ethnic nationalisms, and the rise of plural, multiethnic African nations. Calling attention to lives and literatures long neglected by traditional scholars, Desai introduces rich, interdisciplinary ways of thinking not only about this specific region but also about the very nature of ethnic history and identity. Traveling from the twelfth century to today, he concludes with a look at contemporary Asian populations in East Africa and their struggle to decide how best to participate in the development and modernization of their postcolonial nations without sacrificing their political autonomy.