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Imagining the Urban

Sanskrit and the City in Early India

In Imagining the Urban, Shonaleeka Kaul turns to Sanskrit literature to discover the characteristics—both physical and social—of ancient Indian cities. Kaul examines nearly a thousand years of Sanskrit kāvyas to see what India’s early historic cities were like as living, lived-in, entities—and discovers that the cities were vibrant and teeming with variety and life.

As much about Sanskrit literature as about urban spaces—insofar as that literature reveals significant aspects of the Indian urban past— Imagining the Urban shows that Sanskrit literature is a rich source for historical understanding. Advocating the  kāvyas as an important historical source, Kaul provides a fresh view of the early city, showing distinctive ways of thought and behavior that relate to tradition, morality, and authority.

With its provocative new questions about early Indian cities and ancient Indian texts, this book will be an essential read for scholars of urban history, Sanskrit writings, and South Asian antiquity.

278 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2010

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
A Note on Texts, Translations, and Citations

Appendix 1: The Kāvyas

1. The Ambit of the City

2. Within the City
Appendix 2: The Archaeological Picture

3. Urban Characters and Their World - I: Masculine and Feminine Archetypes

4. Urban Characters and Their World - II: Ascetic, Brāhmana, King, and the Social Order

5. The Urban Experience

6. Symbolic Values and the City


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