The syncretistic ethos of traditions in South Asia has now become part of public discourse. Political scientists, historians, and social activists have laid stress on syncretism as an important political value in present times. Mindful of these projections, the essays in this volume approach the issues of syncretism, synthesis, and pluralism in South Asia today to objectively reassess their importance in coping with a political and cultural future.
The lucid introduction by Asim Roy and Mushirul Hasan outlines the relevance of the debate both within and outside the academe. It prepares the way for the relevant questions the essays pose even as they focus on various individuals, moments, and encounters in Indian history. How does one define syncretism? What is the difference between syncretism and pluralism? Is it possible to live together separately? The volume takes a fresh look at various historical events, personalities, and phenomena, and makes an effort to revisit many long-held, black-and-white, uni-dimensional views such as 'unity in diversity' and 'composite culture'.
In the context of a long history of political turmoil - some of it perceived to be rooted in relations between religious communities - this collection envisions the future direction of India's cultural development and the space and relevance of a syncretistic cultural ethos within it. The contributors reflect on traditions which have been relegated to the background in popular political discourse, but have drawn on diverse traditions and negotiated life on the margins. With its eclectic selection of themes, this collection is able to examine the resilience, strengths, and weaknesses of syncretic culture with special reference to democracy and federalism.
Due to its engagement with a highly topical theme, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of medieval and modern Indian history, sociologists, political scientists as well as lay readers interested in the question of Indian pluralism as reflected in its history.
About the Editors:
Munshirual Mahas is Professor of Modern Indian History, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Asim Roy is Professor, School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Michael H. Fisher
Najaf HaiderMunshirual HasanDavid LelyveldGurpreet MahajanShail MayaramBarbara MetcalfAnnie MontautRajat Kanta RayFrancis RobinsonAsim RoyKumkum SangariKerrin Grafin SchwerinFarzana ShaikhMadhu TrivediPeter Van Der Veer
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