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Ancient India: Culture of Contradictions

Upinder Singh (Author)

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. 

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About the author

Upinder Singh

Upendra Singh teaches ancient history at St Stephen’s College, Delhi. She is the author of Kings, Brahmanas and Temples in Orissa: An Epigraphic Study, AD 300-1147 (1994); Ancient Delhi (1999); and a book for children, Mystereis of the Past: Archaeological Sites in India (2002). Her scholarly articles have appeared in World Archaeology, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, The Indian Historical Review, Man and Environment, and South Asian Studies.

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Bibliographic information

Title Ancient India: Culture of Contradictions
Author Upinder Singh
Format Hardcover
Date published: 07.10.2021
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Aleph Book Company
Language: English
isbn 9789390652617
length 280p.