Somanatha, the many voices of a history

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Penguin, Viking, Jan 1, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 260 pages
In 1026, Mahmud of Ghazni raided the temple of Somanatha. The history of this raid and subsequent events at the site have been reconstructed in the last couple of centuries largely on the basis of the Turko-Persian sources. There were other sources that also refer to events at Somanatha throughout a period of almost a thousand years, but these have rarely been quoted when reconstructing this history. Until very recent times, there were few attempts to either juxtapose or integrate these other texts in order to arrive at a more complete understanding of the history of Somanatha. Such sources include local Sanskrit inscriptions, biographies of kings and merchants written from a Jaina perspective, epics of Rajput-Turkish relations composed at various Rajput courts, popular narratives of the activities of pirs and gurus, all of which, in some way, have a bearing on the history of Somanatha. This book is an attempt to draw together these many voices, to view the sources comparatively, but above all to place each narrative in a historical context. This also involves exploring why a particular, and often distinctive, perspective was adopted by each. It suggests a different history of Somanatha from the one that has been projected through the last two centuries. It underlines the significance of examining the historical perceptions of how authors present events, both in the narratives written in the past and in the interpretations of past events in present times.

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The Setting
The TurkoPersian Narratives
Sanskrit Inscriptions from Somanatha

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About the author (2004)

Romila Thapar is Professor Emeritus in History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. In 1983 she was elected General President of the Indian History Congress and in 1999 a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. She is the author of "Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas; Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations; History and Beyond; Sakuntala: Texts, Readings, Histories; Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History; "and "Somanatha: the Many Voices of a History" (2004).

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