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Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India Hardcover – February 13, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0195141269 ISBN-10: 0195141261

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195141261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195141269
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,822,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"A succinct, cogent study that is admirably well organized and consistently insightful. Though brief, it makes a significant contribution to the study of Indian history and religious studies."--Journal of the American Academy of Relgion


"Shivaji is a succinct, cogent study that is admirably well organized and consistently insightful. Though brief, it makes a significant contribution to the study of Indian history and religious studies. In one of the first studies to trace the longitudinal developments in the biography of a major precolonial figure of India, Laine employs an innovative approach that could well be adapted to other figures. In addition, Laine makes valuable observations about the precolonial history of 'Hinduism'"--Journal of the American Academy of Religion


About the Author


James W. Laine is a Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College.

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Customer Reviews

In other words, our terms are not the only ones to think in.
William Coate
That said, this book is an ill-assorted compendium of half-digested facts and speculation, without any attempt at rigorous scholarship.
Pankaj SAXENA
I would not give single star to this book, but thats the lowest rate you can give.
Shibumi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Pankaj SAXENA on March 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is not so much a review of the book as my take on the controversy surrounding it and some of the comments in the other reviews on Amazon. Yes, I've read the book. Yes, it's silly in parts. But nothing to get so upset about....
I read with dismay about the ban on this book and the vandalism at BORI, with the loss of so many irreplaceable historical documents and treasures. This is Indian history that was lost forever through senseless destruction, and Indians are the poorer for it. It's a shame that a democracy has to resort to book banning; and so readily produces mindless mobs who wantonly destroy priceless history. Democracy can't exist without the freedom of speech, including speech you consider to be wrong or contrary to your beliefs.
That said, this book is an ill-assorted compendium of half-digested facts and speculation, without any attempt at rigorous scholarship. I know the author has since explicitly stated that it is not meant to be historical; it is in fact a collection of stories about Shivaji -- some historical and documented, others that he heard from his buddies over a cup of tea in Pune. The trouble is that most people *do* see it as a factual account (with authority conferred by the credentials of the author and the Oxford University Press). To some extent, it is the fault of the author for not being sufficiently explicit to begin with, but then again, he probably did not expect such scrutiny from the public.
No one knows the truth except the author himself, but I really do not think he set out deliberately to demean Hinduism or to defend Islam.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By William Coate on September 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The fundamental confusion is synthesized in the sub-title. James W. Laine attests to a cultural crossroads in India where two cultures were grappling wirh one another in terms of being at times comprehensive and at times confrontational.

Generally. looking in on a situation from the outside, without being part of it, or being within it, is not conducive to an understanding of human relationships since humans in a time/place frame have their own rationales and it is questionable that "objectifying" them is going to make them any more accessible. Only conceptual arrogance can convince otherwise: We cannot oblige everyone to think the way we do. In other words, our terms are not the only ones to think in. "Our" traditions and "our" rationales, talking of the U.S.A., could easily become the laughing stock of the world. In Studies in Classic American Literature, apparently suppressed in 1923, the year of its publication, D.H. Lawrence does a good job of it. He argues that hypocrisy, ably portrayed in the works of Fenimore Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, and others, will be the seed of our destruction.

I believe that the purpose of Laine's thesis crumbles when he confuses the thesis of historical perfection with human frailty. The imperfection of human beings is all too well known. Lain recurs to his youthful miscomprehension of Davy Crockett as a regional or national hero seen as a villian, he assures us, in the eyes of Mexican status quo. And evidently the scenario does present confrontational issues that, however, cannot be resolved in terms of pseudo terminology brought into existence by contemporary situations, e.g. "Anglos as Illegal immigrants," (pp.89-90).
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The main thesis of this book is that history is bunk and that the writing of history is a modern attempt to recreate the past to mirror our own perceptions of the present. In a supreme irony the author does not realize he has fallen in his own net. The book sets out to rpove that the Hindu Nationalists have stolen Shivaji, the king of the Marathas, and made him into a legend in order to be anti-Muslim. But the true story of Shivaji was supposedly different. According to this book Shivaji was a diveristy loving, multi-cultural, moral relativist and perhaps even a secular-humanist, who loved Islam and didn't really care about Hinduism. It is nice to project our own modern loves into the past but nothing could be further from the truth.

Shivaji was a warrior king who desired to assert the independence of his people, Hindus, from a colonial power, Mughal Muslims. He was a freedom fighter. If he was tolerant, that was by accident. He was not 'Davy Crocket' as the author tries to paint him. Legends about him don't abound with him fighting bears, but rahter with him waging a war of independence. The documents, both Muslim and Hindu, attest to the authenticity of his life. Sometimes modern historians should be mature enough to accept that some legends are real, they arn't all cynical manipulations by modern politics.

Seth J. Frantzman
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20 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "ndhrupad" on February 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Under all the din of Shivadharma, something the good American Professor of Religious Studies hadn't reckoned with before he wrote a quick-fix book for no-less than OUP, it seems that the subalterns, illiterate or otherwise, are questioning the privilege of 'Indologists' and other scholars to make careers while riding roughshod over their living heritage and culture. An important issue not to be dismissed out of hand, as those concerned over here would love to do. The message is loud and clear, don't play with the sensitivities of the host cultures. We do bear witness to eruptions of fringe elements all over the world from time to time; but when the underlying issues are serious, or dear to the heart, you end up demonising a whole culture that is not in the fringe group!
Having said that, we come to the book, where Prof. Laine, unfortunately exhibits a serious tendency to put his foot in his mouth almost everytime that he opens it to speak! He relies on altogether untenable arguments, culled from obscure sources quite out of the context (often from western scholars), even while ignoring a vast body of historical evidence that may be contrary to his half-baked thesis, to serve us what we may call, yes, his unoriginal 'cracks' on the Shivaji story.
For example, the Ramdas issue. As every Indian knows, being non-vegetarian does not automatically bar one from the discipleship of vegetarian Gurus. Then again, there are Gurus themselves who may be non-vegetarian. We don't practice apartheid in matters of discipleship. Nor casteism, as even elementary knowledge of the Varkari tradition reveals. Ramdas himself has composed the most popular aratis in Maharashtra to Ganesh and Shiva as well as to Rama-Krishna.
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