The Routledge Handbook of the State in Premodern India  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of the State in Premodern India

ISBN 9780367558970
Published February 10, 2022 by Routledge India
594 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This handbook presents a multilayered and multidimensional history of state formation in premodern India.

It explores dense and rich local and subregional historiography from the mid-first millennium BC to the eighteenth century in South Asia. Shifting the focus away from economic and political factors, this handbook revises the conventional understanding of states and empires and locates them in their quotidian conduct and activity on socio-cultural and concomitant factors.

Comprehensive in scope, this handbook addresses a range of themes connected with the idea of state formation in the subcontinent. It includes discussions and debates on ritual practices and the Brahmanical order in early India; the Delhi Sultanate and role of Sultans among the Hindu kings; the cosmopolitan ‘Islamicate’ cultural influences on Puranic Hinduism; cultural background of the Mughal state.

The handbook examines new questions and ideologies of state formation, such as:

  • facets of violence and resistance;
  • the significance of the autonomous spaces and forests;
  • regional elites, including ‘Little kings’; tribal background of some famous cults;
  • trade and maritime commerce;
  • royal patronage, courtly manners, lineage formation;
  • imperial architecture, monuments, and temple, among others.

Featuring case studies from different part of the India subcontinent, and with contributions by renowned historians, this authoritative handbook will be an indispensable reading for teachers, scholars, and students of early India, medieval India, premodern India, South Asian history, Asian history, historiography, economic history, historical sociology, and South Asia studies.

Table of Contents


Hermann Kulke and Bhairabi Prasad Sahu 


PART I: Political Systems in Practice 

1. Tidal Waves of India History - Between the Empires and Beyond

Harry Falk 

2. Autonomous Spaces and the Authority of the State: The Contradiction and its Resolution in Theory and Practice

Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya 

3. The Vana and the Ksetra: The Tribal Background of Some Famous Cults

Günther-Dietz Sontheimer 

4. The State, Violence and Resistance

Upinder Singh 

5. Structure of the Chiefdom in Peninsular India

Rajan Gurukkal

6. Trade and the Making of State Society in Early India (c.600-1300 CE)

Ranabir Chakravarti 

7. State Formation and the Frontiers: Autochthonous Communities, Ritual Practices and the Brahmanical Order in Early India

Bhairabi Prasad Sahu 

8. Little Kingdoms

Georg Berkemer


PART II: Early Medieval Polities 

9. A Theatre of Broken Dreams 2.0:  Vidisha during the Days of Gupta Hegemony

Hans Bakker 

10. State, Patronage and Religion in the Early Valkha State (c. 4th to 5th centuries CE)

Suchandra Ghosh

11. Violence, Courtly Manners and Lineage Formation in Early Medieval India

Daud Ali 

12. State Formation under the Western Gangas in Karnataka (4th to 10th centuries CE)

Yogender Dayma 

13. State Formation and Polity of Brahmapura-Kārttikeyapura in Central Himalayas (c. 5th-10th centuries CE)

Dev Kumar Jhanjh 

14. State and its Fortunes: The Cola Experience, South India

Kesavan Veluthat 

15. Imperial Rulers and Regional Elites in Early Medieval Central India (8th to 13th centuries CE)

Annette Schmiedchen 

16. Revisiting the Chola State

Y. Subbarayalu 

17. Imperial Architecture and the Ideology of Kingship in Odisha: Tanjavur’s Brihadisvara Temple as the Model for Odisha’s Monumental Temples?

Hermann Kulke 


PART III: Into the Medieval 

18. The Mouse in the Ancestry

Romila Thapar

19. Building a Past: Creation and Re-creation of a Royal Sanskrit Genealogy in Medieval Rajasthan

Ulrike Teuscher 

20. Kosalananda Kavyam and the Making of a Rajput Dynasty: A Study on the Chauhans of Western Orissa

Shishir K. Panda 

21. Sultan Among Hindu Kings: Dress Titles and the Islamicization of Hindu Culture at Vijayanagara

P. Wagoner 

22. Preparing for the Mughal State: A View from the Textual Worlds of the Fifteenth Century

Pankaj Jha 

23. Durga and the King: Ethnohistorical Aspects in the Politico-Ritual Life of a South Orissan Jungle Kingdom

Burkhard Schnepel


PART IV: Beyond the Premodern

24. The Formation of a Centre out There: The Case of Ranpur

Niels Gutschow

25. King, Goddesses and Jagannatha: Regional Patriotism and Subregional and Local Identities in Early Modern Orissa

Akio Tanabe

26. Virtual Relations: Little Kings in Malabar

Margret Frenz

27. From Dispute to ‘Disturbance’: The ‘Gond Disturbances’ in late 19th century Bonai (Odisha)*

Uwe Skoda

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Hermann Kulke did his PhD in Indology in 1967, is Professor Emeritus of Asian History, University of Kiel, Germany. His publications include Imaging Odisha (Editor-in-Chief, 2013), History of Precolonial India: Issues and Debates (with B. P. Sahu, 2018) and Kings and Cults: State Formation and Legitimation in India and South-east Asia (2021, 3rd rpt.). In 2006 he was awarded Gold Medal, Asiatic Society, Kolkata, in 2010 he was awarded the Padma Shri by the President of India, and in 2011 the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Bhairabi Prasad Sahu is Professor of History, University of Delhi, India. The Changing Gaze: Regions and the Constructions of Early India (2013), Interrogating Political Systems: Integrative Processes and States in Pre-modern India (Edited with H. Kulke, 2015) and The Making of Regions in Indian History: Society, State and Identity in Premodern Odisha (2020) are among his recent works. He has served as President, Ancient India (2003) and Secretary of the Indian History Congress (2006-09), and Council Member, Indian Council of Historical Research (2008-14), New Delhi.