Indian History Carnival-65: India Studies, Harappa, Satavahanas, Radhabhai Saheb Peshwa, Kochi Jews

Entrance to the Synagogue in Kochi (Photo by author)
Entrance to the Synagogue in Kochi (Photo by author)
  1. Koenraad Elst has a review of S N Balagangadhara’s book Reconceptualizing India Studies

    The most acute case of “Orientalism” in the Saidian sense in precisely Nehruvian secularism, the consensus viewpoint shared by most established academics and media. Thus, about caste, “Nehru used Orientalist descriptions of the Indian society of his day and made their facts his own.” (p.74) Citing as example a Western India-watcher, Balu notes that the latter “is not accounting for the Indian caste system by using the notion of fossilized coalitions in India; he is trying to establish the truth of Nehru’s observations (that is, the truth of the Orientalist descriptions of India)”, because the social sciences “where uncontested, (…) presuppose the truth of the Orientalist descriptions of non-Western cultures.” (p.74) That is the problem of the existing “South Asia Studies” in a nutshell. It underscores the need for more serious comparative studies, a field in which Balu has been a pioneer.

  2. Carnival contributor Fëanor has some Indus gossip

    Well, it turns out that there may have been some amount of brutality in the Indus cities too. Skulls were caved in, noses were broken. One can’t be entirely surprised – a purely non-violent society on such a large scale sounds like a pipe-dream. According to [1], out of eighteen skulls studied from the later Harappan period (1900-1700 BC), nearly half had suffered heavy trauma. More interestingly, they report that the prevalence and patterning of cranial injuries, combined with striking differences in mortuary treatment and demography among the three burial areas indicate interpersonal violence in Harappan society was structured along lines of gender and community membership. To wit, the farther you lived from the city centre (or, possibly if your remains were found outside the city sewers), the likelier you were to have had a more violent death. Furthermore, the Harappan culture appears to have become more violent over time, with women being more affected in the later periods.

  3. At CRI, Dr Kiran Kumar Karlapu writes about the The Andhra Satavahanas

    The emperors of the empire were known for their peculiar custom of matronymics. Gautamiputra and Vasisthiputra were among the rulers of this line who consciously decided to be identified for posterity through their matrilineal heritage than anything else. Romila Thapar in her book is deliberately vague as to the importance of this practice and its allusion towards a matrilineal and probably matriarchal practice among the Satavahanas. Even though inheritance to the throne was certainly patriarchal, this matronymic idea is unique to the Satavahanas. It should also remembered that the two major inscriptions of their period were on the orders of the royal queens (Nasik Inscription by Gautami Balasri and Nanaghat inscription of Naganika) and these are the major sources of information for us about the Satavahana Empire.

  4. Mohini has started a series on dynamic Maratha women. This time she writes about Radhabhai Saheb Peshwa

    When Bajirao 1 and Chimaji Appa were out on their campaigns, it was Radhabai who looked after the affairs of the state in their absence. They had to send detailed reports to her about their campaigns. In 1721 Bajirao1 was to conduct a political meeting with the Nizam of Hyderabad. Radhabai had given him sound advice, whether to meet the Nizam, on what terms, where and when to meet him etc. In 1735 Radhabai decided to go on a pilgrimage to Kashi (Varanasi ). To leave Pune and Shaniwarwada and to embark on this long journey was fraught with danger. Her well wishers were sceptical about this as the Marathas had many enemies on the way. The atmosphere was not conducive for a pilgrimage. Radhabai was a determined person, very proud and self respecting. She had immense faith in her sons Bajirao and Chimaji Appa. Radhabai had proclaimed, ” My Baji is so revered in Hindustan that no one would dare to harm me.”

  5. Relics of Cranganore has some 19th century photos of the Jews of Cochin

    The image was analysed from all the angles; their dress, facial features, background. Few had given a convincing answer but we have to go further more to get a clear idea about this picture. This image which could be considered as one of the most oldest photograph of cochin Jews, but they were not wearing a cochini style costume (which is seen any where in the existing images or photographs) and this image gives a feel of Baghdadi Jewish family (After seeing the Sassoon family photo, Pune/Bombay); if we head forward with that, the possibilities of the family being Bagdadi – it would be from Sassoon clan.

That’s all for this month. The next carnival will be up on June 16th. In the mean time if you have any posts for the next carnival, please send it to varnam dot blog @gmail.

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