Look at Indian history from a global perspective, says Upinder Singh

Upinder Singh, Professor, Delhi University, said here on Wednesday said that at the current juncture, there was an urgent need for Indian historians to move beyond their sub-continental frame and to view history in a global perspective.

She was delivering the keynote address on “Ancient India: Looking beyond India to Asia” at the Prof. Achuta Rao Memorial National Seminar on “Ancient India: Identities, boundaries and cultural humanities” held at the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities, here.

Dr. Singh said that local and regional histories were important. At the same time, Indian historians had to look at the connection between India and other parts of the world in the ancient times.

In her lecture, she spoke on the Buddhist networks that connected India with China and South East Asia. She spoke about the importance of Sri Lanka in these networks. She highlighted the importance of ancient royal inscriptions in India and South East Asia.

There were Indian scripts and languages, which had travelled to South East Asia. “But they were transformed into something unique and quite different once they reached there,” she said.

Dr. Singh explained how political ideas and legal texts moved from India to other parts of the world. “It is not as though these texts and ideals were transplanted in a simplistic and simple sort of way. As they moved to other parts of the world, they were transformed in many different ways,” she said. She said that the Burmese legal texts referred not just to the Dharma Shastras but also to Islamic Shariat and Chinese legal traditions. But the Burmese legal texts were unique as Burmese society was so different from these other societies. In the final part of her lecture, she spoke about the extraordinary travels of the Panchatantra. The animal stories in the Panchatantra, which seemed funny, actually dealt with certain perennial political and personal issues. “The Panchatantra has travelled more widely in the East and the West. It is the one Indian text that has probably travelled more widely than any other texts,” she said.

“We should try to broaden our horizons and look at Indian history as part of global history,” Dr. Singh said.

H. Vinod Bhat, Vice-Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), welcomed the gathering. M.S. Valiathan, former Vice-Chancellor, MAHE, Nikhil Govind, Head of MCPH, and D.A. Prasanna, Convener of Prof. Achuta Rao Centenary Programme, were present.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 6:03:24 PM |

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