THE RELIGIOUS ENTERPRISE: Studies in Early Indian Religions (2 Vols. set)
The contemporary milieu of India is resonating with religious frenzy and attempts are being made to define India’s identity in terms of exclusive and monolithic mould of ‘Hinduism’. Political ‘Hindutva’ is being conflated with ‘historical Hindusim’ in a completely ahistorical manner. The non-brahmanical components of even ‘historical Hinduism’ are being sought to be downplayed or brahmanised. Given such a background, it becomes necessary that differing processes of the formation of several religious identities of Indian people through several millennia are unfolded and situated in their overall historical contexts. The present anthology is an attempt in that direction.
Thirteen essays included in this anthology focus on ahistorical character of such historical consciousness that tends to delineate the identity of India exclusively on the basis of ‘religion’ (‘Hinduism’). Second, all contributions are marked by the demonstration of the impact of material advancements and transformations on mutations in religious forms. The dynamics of interactions amongst brahmanical (braahmana) and non-brahmanical (shramana) cultural streams has been accorded due consideration. Similarly, dialectics of religion, ideology and society in the writings on Indian religions in the last two hundred years has also been highlighted. Fresh light has been thrown on the concepts of ‘Dark Age’ and ‘Age of Reason’.
The anthology highlights (a) absence of continuity between Harappan religions and Vedic religions; (b) transformations from ‘Vedism’ to ‘brahmanism’; (c) fluidity and adaptability of religions in the so-called ‘Dark Age’ after c.200 BCE; (d) growth of Smaarta and Puranic religion; (e) hints of emergence of ‘Hinduism’ after the advent of the Turks; (f) persistence of heretical tendencies throughout the four millennia covered in these volumes; (g) inter-and intra-religious sectarian conflicts; and finally, (h) emergence of true spirit of religious identities in India. All studies have been situated in pan-India perspective.
Krishna Mohan Shrimali(b.1947) retired as a Professor of History, University of Delhi after teaching graduate (at his alma mater, the St.Stephen’s College) and postgraduate students for more than more four decades (1968-2012). His contributions have appeared in numerous journals of history and archaeology and his published research monographs include:History of Panchal(in two volumes);The Agrarian Structure in Central India and the Northern Deccan: A Study in Vakataka Inscriptons; Constructing an Identity: Forging Hinduism into Harappan Religions; Dharma, Samaj, aur Sanskriti(in Hindi); The Iron Age and the Religious Revolution, c.700-c.350 BC; Aarthik Sanrachna aur Dharm – Vivek Yugin Bharat mein Mudra, Nagara aur Grama, c.700-c.300 BCE(in Hindi);Prachin Bhartiya Dharmon ka Itihas; andItihas, Puratattva aur Vicharadhara(in Hindi), andThe Blueprint for an Atlas of Early Indian Religions. Amongst several monographs edited by him are:Essays on Indian Art, Religion and Society; Archaeology Since Independence; A Comprehensive History of India, Vol. IV(jointly with Professor R.S. Sharma);Reason and Archaeology.Apart from being the General President of the Indian History Congress in 2017, he has also been the President of History Congresses of the States of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the Historiography Section of the Andhra Pradesh History Congress. He also served as the Treasurer and Secretary of the Indian History Congress. Professor Shrimali is committed to disseminate scientific and secular history through the teaching and writing of history – both at the academic level as well as for common people. His forthcoming book isHistory, Archaeology and Ideology.