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Shivaji : Hindu King in Islamic India. James W. Shivaji is a well-known hero in western India. He defied Mughal power in the seventeenth century, established an independent kingdom, and had himself crowned in an orthodox Hindu ceremony.
The legends of his life have become an epic story that everyone in western India knows, and an important part of the Hindu nationalists' ideology. To read Shivaji's legend today is to find expression of deeply held convictions about what Hinduism means and how it is opposed to Islam.
James Laine traces the origin and development if the Shivaji legend from the earliest sources to the contemporary accounts of the tale. His primary concern is to discover the meaning of Shivaji's life for those who have composed-and those who have read-the legendary accounts of his military victories, his daring escapes, his relationships with saints.
In the process, he paints a new and more complex picture of Hindu-Muslim relations from the seventeenth century to the present. He argues that this relationship involved a variety of compromises and strategies, from conflict to accommodation to nuanced collaboration. Neither Muslims nor Hindus formed clearly defined communities, says Laine, and they did not relate to each other as opposed monolithic groups. Different sub-groups, representing a range of religious persuasions, found it in their advantage to accentuate or diminish the importance of Hindu and Muslim identity and the ideologies that supported the construction of such identities.
By studying the evolution of the Shivaji legend, Laine demonstrates, we can trace the development of such constructions in both pre-British and post-colonial periods.
Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India
Leaving Victoria Terminus Station in the late afternoon, one is aware of the humidity and the crowds. Half a dozen languages fill the air—among them Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, and English— but the hawkers and hustlers and taxi drivers call out in the lingua franca of Bombay Hindi. The train pulls out, and the many workers who live in Pune but work in Bombay settle into the second-class cars to drink tea, play cards, or read newspapers on the four-hour trip home. Rumbling through the seemingly endless neighborhoods of this great port city of fifteen million, the train takes an hour to reach the countryside, the green paddy fields of the coastal plain. Then the air cools and freshens as the train begins to climb into the Western Ghats, the ridge of beautiful mountains known in this part of India as the Sahyadris.
Shivaji: Hindu King In Islamic India
Shivaji was a noble and virtuous hero from 17th-century western India. His legend is well known and has been retold, in several different versions, as it serves as an important part of Hindu nationalist ideology. His legend expresses deeply held convictions about what Hinduism is, and how it is opposed to Islam. Through presenting specific points about the similarities of themes and the contexts in which this legend has been set, this book traces the origin and development of the Shivaji legend, examining its meaning for those who have composed and read it, and paints a complex picture of the Through presenting specific points about the similarities of themes and the contexts in which this legend has been set, this book traces the origin and development of the Shivaji legend, examining its meaning for those who have composed and read it, and paints a complex picture of the past four centuries of national identity, awareness of themes present during colonization, the influence of an author's experience in his narrations, and, most importantly, Hindu-Muslim relations.
The whole idea of censorship and burning or pulping of books is beginning to seem rather quaint. But of course, Penguin USA can quickly replace them, even in India, as the author herself recently noted. Fairly soon, of course, people everywhere will be downloading any book they like in digital form. What is distressing is the whole sentiment behind the idea of banning books. A scholar like Doniger, who has spent her whole life studying Sanskrit and writing lively books intended to provoke an interest in Hindu literature and thought, nowadays finds herself denigrated by a cadre of defensive apologists who feel they must guard against anything they deem to be a slight to their tradition. Given that Indian intellectual life for the last 2, years has been characterised by extraordinary openness, rigour and self-criticism, exactly what has produced this new narrowness and thin-skinned sensitivity? When my book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India OUP, was banned, I was amazed at the reaction, and have reflected on the increasing tendency for certain Hindus to feel the need to police the discourse surrounding Hinduism.