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Ancient India

 | Book Awards 2022 | English Non-fiction

Ancient India

Full Title: Ancient India: Culture of Contradictions

Author: Upinder Singh
Publisher: Aleph Book Company

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

In Ancient India: Culture of Contradictions, one of India’s most distinguished historians takes readers on an exhilarating voyage of discovery into the distant past.

Upinder Singh urges us to abandon simplistic stereotypes and instead think of ancient India in terms of the coexistence of five powerful contradictions—between social inequality and promises of universal salvation, the valorization of desire and detachment, goddess worship and misogyny, violence and non-violence, and religious debate and conflict. She does so using a vast array of sources including religious and philosophical texts, epics, poetry, plays, technical treatises, satire, biographies, and inscriptions, as well as the material and aesthetic evidence of archaeology and art from sites across the subcontinent. Singh’s scholarly but highly accessible style, clear explanation, and balanced interpretations offer an understanding of the historian’s craft and unravel the many threads of what we think of as ancient Indian culture. This is not a dead or forgotten past but one invoked in different contexts even today. Further, in spite of enormous historical changes over the centuries, the contradictions discussed here still remain.

Beautifully written, deeply original, and profusely illustrated with masterpieces of ancient, medieval, and modern art, the book brings to life the rich complexity of ancient India and its connections with the present in a vivid and compelling manner.

About the Author: 

Upinder Singh is Professor of History at Ashoka University. Her interests range over ancient Indian history and archaeology, the history of ideas, and India’s connections with the wider world. She is the author of Kings, Brahmanas, and Temples in Orissa: An Epigraphic Study (ad 300–1147); Ancient Delhi; The Discovery of Ancient India: Early Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology; A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the Twelfth Century; The Idea of Ancient India: Essays on Religion, Politics, and Archaeology; and Political Violence in Ancient India. She has edited Delhi: Ancient History; Rethinking Early Medieval India; and The World of India’s First Archaeologist: Letters from Alexander Cunningham to J .D. M. Beglar; and co-edited Ancient India: New Research; Asian Encounters: Exploring Connected Histories; and Buddhism in Asia: Revival and Reinvention.

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