Recently Published Books
Rituals of Identity: Thangmi Identities Between Nepal and India by Sara Shneiderman (2015)
Rituals of Identity is an ethnography focusing on the cross-border circulation of Thangmi people and their ideas about ethnic, national, religious and political identity. Rituals of Ethnicity offers new explanations for the powerful persistence of ethnicity as a category of identification today despite the increasing realities of mobile, translocal lives. The book is based on over a decade of ethnographic research with diverse members of the Thangmi community in the Dolakha and Sindhupalchok districts of central-eastern Nepal, as well as in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India, and the neighboring state of Sikkim. All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to organizations supporting Thangmi communities of Dolakha and Sindhupalchok to rebuild after the earthquakes devastated their villages.
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Crossing the Lines of Caste: Visvamitra and the Construction of Brahmin Power in Hindu Mythology by Adheesh Sathaye (2015)
What does it mean to be a Brahmin, and what could it mean to become one? Over the years, intellectuals and dogmatists have offered plenty of answers to the first question, but the latter presents a cultural puzzle, since normative Brahminical ideology deems it impossible for an ordinary individual to change caste without first undergoing death and rebirth.
There is, however, one notable figure in the Hindu mythological tradition who is said to have transformed himself from a king into a Brahmin by amassing great ascetic power, or tapas: the ornery sage Visvamitra. Through texts composed in Sanskrit and vernacular languages, oral performances, and visual media, Crossing the Lines of Caste examines the rich mosaic of legends about Visvamitra found across the Hindu mythological tradition. It offers a comprehensive historical analysis of how the “storyworlds” conjured up through these various tellings have served to adapt, upgrade, and reinforce the social identity of real-world Brahmin communities, from the ancient Vedic past up to the hypermodern present.
Using a performance-centered approach to situate the production of the Visvamitra legends within specific historical contexts,Crossing the Lines of Caste reveals how and why mythological culture has played an active, dialogical role in the construction of Brahmin social power over the last three thousand years.
(From back cover)
A Woman’s Rāmāyana: Candrāvatī’s Bengali Epic by Mandakranta Bose and Sarika Priyadarshini Bose (2013)
The Rāmāyana, an ancient epic of India, with audiences across vast stretches of time and geography, continues to influence numberless readers socially and morally through its many re-tellings. Made available in English for the first time, the 16th century version presented here is by Candrāvatī, a woman poet from Bengal. It is a highly individual rendition as a tale told from a woman’s point of view which, instead of celebrating masculine heroism, laments the suffering of women caught in the play of male ego.
This book presents a translation and commentary on the text, with an extensive introduction that scrutinizes its social and cultural context and correlates its literary identity with its ideological implications. Taken together, the narrative and the critical study offered here expand the understanding both of the history of women’s self-expression in India and the cultural potency of the epic tale. The book is of interest equally to students and researchers of South Asian narratives, Rāmāyana studies and gender issues.
(From back cover)
Women in the Hindu Tradition: Rules, Roles and Exceptions by Mandakranta Bose (2011)
This book accounts for the origin and evolution of the nature and roles of women within the Hindu belief system. It explains how the idea of the goddess has been derived from Hindu philosophical ideas and texts of codes of conduct and how particular models of conduct for mortal women have been created. Hindu religious culture correlates philosophical speculation and social imperatives to situate femininity on a continuum from divine to mortal existence. This creates in the Hindu consciousness multiple – often contradictory – images of women, both as wielders and subjects of authority. The conception and evolution of the major Hindu goddesses, placed against the judgments passed by texts of Hindu sacred law on women’s nature and duties, illuminate the Hindu discourse on gender, the complexity of which is compounded by the distinctive spirituality of female ascetic poets.
Drawing on a wide range of Sanskrit texts, the author explains how the idea of the goddess has been derived from Hindu philosophical ideas and also from the social roles of women as reflected in, and prescribed by, texts of codes of conduct. She examines the idea of female divinity which gave rise to models of conduct for mortal women. Instead of a one-way order of ideological derivation, the author argues that there is constant traffic between both ways the notional and the actual feminine. This book brings together for the first time a wide range of material and offers fresh stimulating interpretations of women in the Hindu Tradition.
(From back cover)
Sangitanarayana of Purusottama Misra: (A Seventeenth Centuary Text on Music and Dance from Orissa) by Mandakranta Bose (2009)
Sangitanarayana is a Sanskrit text on music and dance written in the 17th century by purusottama Misra, a minister at the court of Kind Gajapati Narayanadeva of Parlakimidi in Orissa and his instructor in musicology, with the assistance of the kind. While the precise date of the Sangitanarayana is not known, its relationship to Purusottama Misra and Gajapati Narayanadeva prompts us to place it in the first half of the 17th century.
One of the most valuable and extensive texts on music and dance from eastern Indian, Sangitanarayana consists of four chapters, the first on vocal music (gitaniranya), the second on instrumental music (vadyanirnaya), and a fourth chapter that provides examples of musical compositions (suddhaprabandhodharana).
Altogether 15 mss., of the text are known to exist. Some full and some fragmentary. An edition of the text comprising all the four chapters was published first by Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1966 under the joint editorship of Pandit vanambaracarya, Kavichandra Kalicharan Patnaik and Shri Kdearnath Mahapatra. A more recent edition of the three musicological chapters was accomplished in 1987 by Janothan Katz of Oxford but remains yet unpublished. Present edition is the first critical edition, which also provides an English translation of the text.
(from back cover)