Retelling Time : Alternative Temporalities from Premodern South Asia book cover
1st Edition

Retelling Time
Alternative Temporalities from Premodern South Asia

Edited By

Shonaleeka Kaul

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 17, 2021
ISBN 9781032061931
September 17, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge India
224 Pages

SAVE ~ $31.00
was $155.00
USD $124.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Retelling Time challenges the hegemony of colonial modernity over academic disciplines and over ways in which we think about something as fundamental as time. It reclaims a bouquet of alternative practices of time from premodern South Asia, which stem from worldviews that have been marginalized.

These practices relate to a range of classical and vernacular genres including alaṃkāra, theravāda, yoga, rāmakathā, tasawwuf, āyāraṃga, purāṇa, trikā-tantra, navya-nyāya, pratyabhijñā, carita, kūṭīyāṭṭam and maṅgala kāvya. These represent multiple languages such as Sanskrit, Persian, Pali, Prakrit, Awadhi, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali, as well as diverse streams, from Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sufi Islam to logic, yoga, tantra, theatre, and poetics. Retelling Time questions the modern Eurocentric belief in an empty, homogenous, abbreviated, secular and irreversible time. It proposes instead that that premodern South Asia invested time with cultural function and value, which ranged from the contingent to the transcendent, the quotidian to the cosmic, the fleeting to the eternal, and the social to the spiritual. Accordingly, time was reworked --- stretched, melded, collapsed, recursed, rolled over, and even extinguished. Sacred, social, aesthetic, scientific, fictional, historical, and performative South Asian traditions are seen here in conversation with one other, mediated by an ethical paradigm. Their collective challenge is to decolonize our ways of knowing and being.

This book will be of interest to scholars of South Asian history, philosophy of history, anthropology, literature, Sanskrit, post colonial studies, cultural studies, studies of temporality and of the Global South.

Table of Contents

Preface 1. Temporality and Its Discontents Or Why Time Needs to be Retold 2. The Moment in Which the River Rests: Time in Early Buddhism 3. Proleptic Pasts and Involuted Causalities in Kūṭiyāṭṭam 4. Taking, Making, and Leaving: The Many Times of the Āyāraṃga 5. The Guru and the Mantra: Transcending Time in the Philosophy and Practice of Yoga 6. Time is Born of his Eyelashes: Purāṇic Measurement and Conceptions of Time 7. On Rasa and Recursivity: Ethics and Aesthetics of Time in Sanskrit Poetics (Alaṃkāraśāstra) 8. Sun, Consciousness and Time: The Way of Time and the Timeless in Kashmir Shaivism 9. Time is in the Moment (waqt) and also in Eternity (dahr): Reflections from Sufi Islam 10. Concentric Worlds: Space and Time in the Pratyabhijñā school and the Abhinavabhāratī 11. Corporal Time to Cognitive Time: Kannada Wordscape in Transition 10th to 13th centuries 12. (Un)doing Space and Time: ‘Doing’ the Rāmcaritmānas 13. The Ontology of Now: Reading Time through 16th and 17th century Nyāya philosophy 14. ‘A Farrago of Legendary Nonsense’: Myth, Time and History in the Keralolpatti 15. The Knots of Time: Reading Nostalgia in Bengali Literature from 13th to the 19th century

View More



Shonaleeka Kaul is a cultural and intellectual historian of early South Asia, specializing in working with Sanskrit texts. She is Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She 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 the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany. 

She is the author of Imagining the Urban: Sanskrit and the City in Early India (2010) and The Making of Early Kashmir: Landscape and Identity in the Rajatarangini (2018). She has edited four volumes including Cultural History of Early South Asia: A Reader (2014) and Eloquent Spaces: Meaning and Community in Early Indian Architecture (2019).