The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen: Heroic Pasts in India C. 1500-1900

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University of Washington Press, 2007 - History - 276 pages
2 Reviews

Winner of the 2009 Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize, sponsored by the Association for Asian Studies

The medieval Rajput queen Padmini - believed to have been pursued by Alauddin Khalji, the Sultan of Delhi - has been the focus of numerous South Asian narratives, ranging from a Sufi mystical romance in the sixteenth century to nationalist histories in the late nineteenth century. The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen explores how early modern regional elites, caste groups, and mystical and monastic communities shaped their distinctive versions of the past through the repeated refashioning of the legend of Padmini.

Ramya Sreenivasan investigates these legends and traces their subsequent appropriation by colonial administrators and nationalist intellectuals, for varying different political ends. Using Padmini as a means of illustrating the power of gender norms in constructing heroic memory, she shows how such narratives about virtuous women changed as they circulated across particular communities in South Asia between the sixteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This book will interest historians of memory, gender, community, culture, and historywriting in South Asia. Illustrating how enduring legends emerged out of particular precolonial repositories of "tradition," the book also addresses the nature of colonial transitions and precolonial historical consciousness.

 

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Contents

Sufi Tale of Rajputs in Sixteenthcentury Avadh
22
Rajput Kings and their Pasts in the Mughal Period
65
Tales of Past Glory under Early Colonial Indirect Rule
117
Exemplary Patriotism in the Late Nineteenth Century
157
Conclusion
201
Summaries of Selected Versions
207
List of Known VersionsManuscripts
228
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About the author (2007)

Russ Christensen has spent over four years with the Pa-O in the Mae Hong Son area of northern Thailand. Sann Kyaw, and ethnic Pa-O, completed two years at the University of Mandalay before the universities were closed in 1988.

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