The Making of Brahmanical Hegemony
- Studies in Caste, Gender and Vaishnava Theology
?The discipline of history in India is under attack-not only from those who adopt a pseudo-historical mode to popularize a mythical version of the past colored with their ill-concealed political objectives, but also from those who, posing methodological challenges through unbridled theoretical relativism emphasizing cultural specificity and difference, end up reorientalizing the Orientals. What is left unquestioned in both approaches is the hegemony of forms of thinking which underlie social and economic inequalities in the present. This book is a collection of essays - both published and unpublished - about the creation of Brahmanical hegemony through the institutions of caste, gender, and religious ideology in the history of early India. The essays focus on the role played by religion and mythology in the making of this hegemony. The studies in this book argue that myths reveal the stories of domination and resistance if we give attention to the process of their production and not take them as factual historical narratives.The idea is not to dismiss myths as false, distorted, or bad history but to examine the kind of reality they represent, to delve into the dynamics of their formation and their impact, and account for elements of continuity and change in them. Pursuing this line of argument, these essays build on the author's earlier classic study, The Origin and Development of Vaishnavism. The book has three thematic divisions: studies on caste-related social differentiation drawing on the sources for the history, society, and polity of early India as well as reviewing the work of R.S. Sharma, the eminent historian of the period; studies about the gendered development of Brahmanical hegemony; and studies on the historical valences of the various mythological incarnations in Vaishnava theology: Rama, Narasimha, and Hayagriva.
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