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Class and Religion in Ancient India

Class and Religion in Ancient India

By Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyaya

Anthem South Asian Normative Traditions Studies

A fascinating read for scholars and general readers alike, ‘Class and Religion in Ancient India’ highlights the interdependence between the class structure and the Vedic and Brahmanical forms of religion in ancient India. It seeks to demolish the myth that religiosity and spirituality were the distinctive characteristics of ancient Indian civilization. The author demonstrates that religion was a superstructure of class relations used primarily by the ruling class and the state to perpetuate a predatory class structure based on exploitation and oppression.

Hardback, 264 Pages

ISBN:9781843317272

January 2007

£50.00, $80.00

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About This Book

A fascinating read for scholars and general readers alike, ‘Class and Religion in Ancient India’ highlights the interdependence between the class structure and the Vedic and Brahmanical form of religion in ancient India. It seeks to demolish the myth that religiosity and spirituality were the distinctive characteristics of ancient Indian civilization. The author demonstrates that religion was a superstructure of class relations used primarily by the ruling class and the state to perpetuate a predatory class structure based on exploitation and oppression.

Buddhism, foreign immigrant communities, Atheist-rationalist philosophies and the rise of Shudra dynasties threatened to destabilize the class-caste structure that had come into existence in the late Rig Vedic period.  However, the Brahmanical revival led by the ruling class and the state from the second century B.C. restored the Vedic religion and the class-caste structure in a slightly modified form.  A thorough analysis of the Vedas and Upanishads, Manusmriti, Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas has been attempted in the context of the relevant period.

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Author Information

Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyaya is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India.

Series

Anthem South Asian Normative Traditions Studies

Table of Contents

Acronyms and Abbreviations; Introduction; Class Formation in Vedic Society; Social Origins of Advaita Philosophy; Political Sociology of Bhagavadgita; Class Dynamics, Time Cycles and Avatar; State and Counter-Revolution; Bibliography; Index

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