1st Edition

Myths and Places New Perspectives in Indian Cultural Geography

Edited By Shonaleeka Kaul Copyright 2023
    246 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    246 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This volume explores the dialogic relationship between myths and places in the historically, geographically, and culturally diverse context of India.

    Given its ambiguous relationship with ‘facts’ and empirical reality, myth has suffered an uncertain status in the field of professional history, with the latter’s preference for scientifism over more creative orders of representation. Myths and Places rehabilitates myth, not as history’s primeval ‘Other’, nor as an instrument of socio-religious propagation, but as communitarian mechanisms by which societies made sense of themselves and their world. It argues that myths helped communities fashion their identities and their habitat/habitus, and were fashioned by these in turn. This book explores diverse forms of territorial becoming and belonging in a grassroots approach from across India, studying them in culturally sensitive ways to recover local life-worlds and their self-understanding. Further, challenging the stereotypical bracketing of the mythical with the sacred and the material with the historical, the multidisciplinary essays in the book examine myth in relation to not only religion but other historical phenomena such as ecology, ethnicity, urbanism, mercantilism, migration, politics, tourism, art, philosophy, performance, and the everyday.

    This book will be of interest to scholars and general readers of Indian history, regional studies, cultural geography, mythology, religious studies, and anthropology.

    List of Illustrations. List of Contributors. Acknowledgments. Part I: Introduction 1. Reclaiming Myth, Emplacing History Part II: Hills and Mountains 2. The Mountain Numen: Myth and Everyday Life in Kangra and Chamba 3. Toponymic Tales: Myth, Memory and Place Making in Monyul Part III: Plains and Deserts 4, Ecology, Mythic Imagination, and Kṛṣṇa Worship in Early Mathurā 5. The First Rajput Hero: Hammīra and the Making of Rajasthan Part IV: Rivers and Forests 6. Myths of Purity and the Miracle of Water along the Banks of the Ganga-Yamuna 7. Between Earth and Sky: The Kuinka Narrative of Origin and Self in Belgar Part V: Cities and Coasts 8. Kāśī as Space and Notion: Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina Myths 9. The Rise and Fall of Two Cities: Valabhī and Dhārā as Narrated in the Prabandhacintāmaṇi 10. The Patriarch King: Myths from a Jewish Homeland in Kodungallur 11. Myth as Palimpsest: Performance and Provenance of the Tamil Śilappadikaram Part VI: Supra-Region 12. Peregrination as Pedagogy: Ādi Śaṃkarācārya’s Digvijaya and the Idea of India. Index.


    Shonaleeka Kaul is a cultural and intellectual historian of early India. She is Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, and has also been the Malathy Singh Distinguished Lecturer in South Asian Studies at Yale University, USA; the Jan Gonda Fellow in Indology at Leiden University, The Netherlands; and the DAAD Professor of History at Heidelberg University, Germany. 

    She has authored The Making of Early Kashmir: Landscape and Identity in the Rajatarangini (2018) and Imagining the Urban: Sanskrit and the City in Early India (2010), and edited Retelling Time: Alternative Temporalities from Premodern South Asia (2021), Eloquent Spaces: Meaning and Community in Early Indian Architecture (2019) and Cultural History of Early South Asia (2014). Translations by her include Hitopadesha (2022) and Looking Within: Life Lessons from Lal Ded, the Kashmiri Shaiva Mystic (2019).