Texts, Readings, Histories

Romila Thapar


Women Unlimited, New Delhi, 2018


x+272 pages

Price INR 450.00

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The importance of Åšakuntalā as personifying Indian womanhood in Indian literature and culture is undisputed. This book attempts to explore some of the links between culture, history and gender, and between literature and history, through reading variant versions of the narrative of Åšakuntalā. These include the stories in the Mahābhārata, the play by Kālidāsa, and the 18th century kathā in Braj. The transformation of Åšakuntalā from an autonomous assertive figure in the Mahābhārata to the quintessential submissive woman in the Kālidāsa version is carefully examined by the author through a fascinating reading of the texts and translations of the play in India and Europe.

Romila Thapar

Romila Thapar (born 30 November 1931) is a distinguished Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India. She is the author of numerous substantial books including the popular classic, A History of India, and is currently Professor Emerita at Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) in New Delhi.

After graduating from Panjab University, Thapar earned her doctorate under A.L. Basham at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London in 1958. She was a reader in Ancient Indian History at Kurukshetra University between 1961 and 1962 and held the same position at Delhi University between 1963 and 1970. Later, she worked as Professor of Ancient Indian History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is now Professor Emerita.

Thapar's major works are Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations, Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History (ed.), A History of India Volume One, and Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300.