Dealing as it does exclurevely with Folklore in Ancient and Medieval India, based on Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and Apabhrarnsa Sources, it is the first of its kind. Spanning a period of over three thousand years, the book contains much information about omens and parents, beliefs and practices, sports and festivals some of cohich survive even to-day in some form or other. The book is indispensable for those who want to study the origin and development of Indian sociology and social anthropology and Glossary is illuminating and the Bibliography exhaustive.
Dr. S. C. Banerji, a retired Professor of Sanskrit under Govt. of West Bengal, is a veteran indologist. He has been earring on research in various aspects of indology for half a century, and has, to his credit, over forty works including those mentioned in the inner title as well as Folklore in Buddhist and Jain Literatures, Laments in Sanskrit Literature, Kalidasakosa, Flora and Fauna in Sanskrit Literature, The Castway of Indian Society (History of Prostitution), etc.
Prof. Dr. Chhanda Chakraborty, Lecturer, Basanti Debi College, Calcutta, is well known for her pioneering work on Common Life in the Rgveda and Arharvaveda. She has also contributed papers on the subject to International Sanskrit Conference in Varanasi and All-India Oriental Conference in Calcutta.
In if, we have made an attempt to portray the life of common people as revealed in Vedic Samhitas, Brahmanas, Upanisads, Kalpasutras, Epics, Puranas, Smrtisastra, Arthasastra, Astadhyayi, Mahabhasya, important works in classical Sanskrit-prose, poetical and dramatic. Incidentally, we have taken into account some philosophical works, works on poetics and dramaturgy, such technical works as the Krsiparasara, Caraka-samhita, Samgita-ratnakara, works on elephant-lore, horse-lore, falconry, etc. Tantra has been utilised. The Kamasatra and other important works on erotics have been probed to a considerable extent. No picture of the society in ancient and medieval India can be complete without the material contained in the works in Pali, Prakrit and Apabhramsa languages. So, in our study, we have taken info account the prominent works in these languages.
The plan of the work is briefly this. No account of a society can be complete without a description of the background, political and social, against which the society developed from the Vedic age. In our account of the life of the common people, We have spanned a period of over three thousand years.
The topics, dealt with, are omens and portents, superstitions, magic, vices, crimes and punishments, popular cults, -creeds, beliefs and practices, sex-life, festivals, sports and pas-times, dress, decoration, food and drink, means of livelihood, village life, manners and customs, low-class people, etc.
Two subjects, concerning the life of the people, are interesting. These are riddles and the art of letter-writing. We have dealt with these subjects briefly.
For enabling the readers to form an idea of the age when particular customs and practices prevailed, we have given a chronology of the important sources utilised in the work.
For a continuous account of the evolution of common life since the Vedic age, we have considered the Rgveda and Atharvaveda too though these two Samhitas have been exhaustively studied in the Common Life in the Rgveda and Atharvaveda by Chhanda Chakraborty, one of the joint authors of this work. Instead of repeating all the matters, dealt with in that work, we have occasionally referred to the same.
In dealing with the above topics, we have, at places, pointed out similar beliefs and practices in countries abroad and their continuity, in the same or altered forms, in later times.
It may be objected that all the matters, dealt with in this work, were not confined to the common people. It is true. Under common life we have included such beliefs and practices which are naive, not rational and scientific. Some of these may have crept into the upper strata of the society. But, their origin among the common people or those of the upper echelons with uncritical minds can hardly be doubted.
The bibliography of the works consulted will show the! works drawn upon for the present purpose and the authors to whom we are indebted. Special mention should be made of P. V. Kanes monumental History of Dharmasastra. The help, derived from the earlier writers, has been stated at the proper places.
The authors will be grateful if the kind readers draw their attention to such information as may have escaped their notice. Owing to unavoidable circumstances, the proof-sheets of the major portion of the book could not be revised by the authors. The authors crave the indulgence of the readers for this lapse, and request them to correct the errors according to the errata which contains corrections of the errors of a glaring nature.
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