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In the late twentieth century, the scope of history writing has expanded beyond textual sources to include additional sources such as literature, coins, art, and architecture. Meanwhile, history writing on ancient India continues to be burdened by an Indological discourse, which takes ‘India’ as a monolithic whole and interprets sources in ways that contribute to a pan-Indian meta-narrative. Sources which are fragmentary in nature, or located far from the so-called centres of civilisation, are relegated to the footnotes and margins, merely as tools of corroboration.
Seeking History through Her Source corrects this imbalance by interrogating ‘sources’ in innovative ways. The authors seek historical realities south of the Vindhyas, and contextualise oft-neglected sources in their respective local niches. They highlight literary, art-historical and archaeological sources—such as the Jātakas, Cankam literature, Kāvya narratives, coins and praśastis of local rulers—while also highlighting fragmentary sources, such as label inscriptions and statuettes. Thus, literature and myths, and even non-textual traditions are centred as valid ways to address new areas of historical research, and complicate dominant narratives for a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of the past.
This book will be invaluable to teachers, scholars, and students of history, as well as to readers interested in learning how history can also be constructed from fragmentary and regional sources.
Aloka Parasher Sen is Professor Emerita in the Department of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.
List of Plates
Aloka Parasher Sen
Part I: Perceiving the Past
1. The Making of Classical Tamil Literature: Multiple Sources in its Construction
2. Virtual Hegemonies and Literary Imaginings: Reading the Jātakas ‘Against the Grain’
3. Perceptions of History in Images of Space and Power: The Kāvya Narratives
4. The Idea of Water: A Reading of the Cankam Poems
Sreekala M. V.
Part II: Producing the Past
5. Identities in Fragments: Early Deccan in Inscriptions
6. Local Coins and Local Rulers: The Early Deccan
Kasala Jashwanth Prasad
7. ChāỊukyan Praśastis: Historical Consciousness and Identity
8. Seeking History in Fragments
Aloka Parasher Sen
Notes on the Contributors