The Hindus An Alternative History

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 11/30/2010
  • Publisher: Penguin Books

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"Don't miss this equivalent of a brilliant graduate course froma feisty and exhilarating teacher." -The Washington Post An engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth, The Hindusoffers a new way of understanding one of the world's oldest major religions. Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account. Many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated within a century; its central tenets arise at particular moments in Indian history and often differ according to gender or caste; and the differences between groups of Hindus far outnumber the commonalities. Yet the greatness of Hinduism lies precisely in many of these idiosyncratic qualities that continues to inspire debate today. This groundbreaking work elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds, the inner life and the social history of Hindus.

Author Biography

Wendy Doniger holds doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian studies from Harvard and Oxford. She is the author of several translations of Sanskrit texts, including Penguin Classics editions of Hindu Myths and The Rig Veda, as well as many books about Hinduism. She is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

India's Major Geographical Featuresp. xi
India from 2500 BCE to 600 CEp. xii
India from 600 CE to 1600 CEp. xiii
India from 1600 CE to the Presentp. xiv
List of Illustrationsp. xv
Preface: The Man or the Rabbit in the Moonp. 1
Introduction: Working with Available Lightp. 17
Time and Space in India: 50 Million to 50,000 BCEp. 50
Civilization in the Indus Valley: 50,000 to 1500 BCEp. 65
Between the Ruins and the Text: 2000 to 1500 BCEp. 85
Humans, Animals, and Gods in the Rig Veda: 1500 to 1000 BCEp. 103
Sacrifice in the Brahmanas: 800 to 500 BCEp. 135
Renunciation in the Upanishads: 600 to 200 BCEp. 164
The Three (or Is It Four?) Aims of Life in the Hindu Imaginaryp. 199
Women and Ogresses in the Ramayana: 400 BCE to 200 CEp. 212
Violence in the Mahabharata: 300 BCE to 300 CEp. 252
Dharma in the Mahabharata: 300 BCE to 300 CEp. 277
Escape Clauses in the Shastras: 100 BCE to 400 CEp. 304
Bhakti in South India: 100 BCE to 900 CEp. 338
Goddesses and Gods in the Early Puranas: 300 to 600 CEp. 370
Sects and Sex in the Tantric Puranas and the Tantras: 600 to 900 CEp. 406
Fusion and Rivalry Under the Delhi Sultanate: 650 to 1500 CEp. 445
Avatar and Accidental Grace in the Later Puranas: 800 to 1500 CEp. 473
Philosophical Feuds in South India and Kashmir: 800 to 1300 CEp. 503
Dialogue and Tolerance Under the Mughals: 1500 to 1700 CEp. 527
Hinduism Under the Mughals: 1500 to 1700 CEp. 551
Caste, Class, and Conversion Under the British Raj: 1600 to 1900 CEp. 574
Suttee and Reform in the Twilight of the Raj: 1800 to 1947 CEp. 610
Hindus in America: 1900-p. 636
The Past in the Present: 1950-p. 654
Inconclusion, or, the Abuse of Historyp. 687
Acknowledgmentsp. 691
Chronologyp. 693
Guide to Pronunciation and Spelling of Words in Sanskrit and Other Indian Languagesp. 695
Abbreviationsp. 696
Glossary of Terms in Indian Languages and Names of Key Figuresp. 697
Notesp. 704
Bibliography: Works Cited and Consultedp. 729
Photo Creditsp. 754
Indexp. 755
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