This classic provides a comprehensive account of the hstory of the Mauryas with a special emphasis on the reign and activities of Aśoka. It examines the sources, socio-economic conditions, administration, Dhamma, foreign relations, and the decline of the Mauryas. This edition comes with a new Pre-word which updates research on the subject.
The figure of Sakuntala appears in many forms throughout South Asian literature, most famously in the Mahabharata and in Kalidisa's fourth century Sanskrit play, Sakuntala and the Ring of Recollection. In these two texts, Sakuntala undergoes a critical transformation, relinquishing her assertiveness and autonomy to become the quintessentially submissive woman, revealing much about the performance of Hindu femininity that came to dominate South Asian culture. Through a careful analysis of sections from Sakuntala and their various iterations in different contexts, Romila Thapar explores the interaction between literature and history, culture and gender, that frame the development of this canonical figure and a distinct conception of female identity.
The claim that India--uniquely among civilizations--lacks historical writing distracts us from a more pertinent question: how to recognize the historical sense of societies whose past is recorded in ways very different from European conventions. Romila Thapar, a distinguished scholar of ancient India, guides us through a panoramic survey of the historical traditions of North India, revealing a deep and sophisticated consciousness of history embedded in the diverse body of classical Indian literature. The history recorded in such texts as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata is less concerned with authenticating persons and events than with presenting a picture of traditions striving to retain legitimacy amid social change. Spanning an epoch from 1000 BCE to 1400 CE, Thapar delineates three strains of historical writing: an Itihasa-Purana tradition of Brahman authors; a tradition composed mainly by Buddhist and Jaina monks and scholars; and a popular bardic tradition. The Vedic corpus, the epics, the Buddhist canon and monastic chronicles, inscriptional evidence, regional accounts, and literary forms such as royal biographies and drama are all scrutinized afresh--not as sources to be mined for factual data but as genres that disclose how Indians of ancient times represented their own past to themselves.
This book is a concise collection of lectures which discuss the nature of early Indian society during the mid-first millennium BC and relate it to the ancient Indian historical tradition in its earliest forms. It also looks at the particular character of social formations, their genesis, and continuity as part of the later Indian social landscape. Examining the social and political formulations of the period, this volume analyses the transformation of lineage-based societies into state formulations. It considers the migration and arrival of the monarchies in the middle Ganga valley, where the evolution of these societies resulted in the formation of a state. It provides insights into environmental influences on settlements, the particularities of caste, the role of rituals, and the interaction of ideology with these changes. The volume presents an account of the interplay of a range of variables in state formation.