University of Delhi, Delhi
Upinder Singh is Professor of History and National Coordinator for History at the Institute of Life Long Learning, University of Delhi. An alumna of the University of Delhi, she holds a doctorate from McGill University, Canada. She is a prolific author, and her writings range over various aspects of ancient Indian history, archaeology, and the modern histories of ancient sites and monuments. She is the author of Kings, Brˉahmana.s, and Temples in Orissa: An Epigraphic Study (AD 3001147) (1994), Ancient Delhi (1999), The Discovery of Ancient India: Early Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology (2004), A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the Twelfth Century (2008), The Idea of Ancient India: Essays on Religion, Politics, and Archaeology (2016), and Political Violence in Ancient India (2017). She has edited Delhi: Ancient History (2006) and Rethinking Early Medieval India (2011) and has co-edited Ancient India: New Research (2009), Asian Encounters: exploring connected histories (2014), and Buddhism in Asia: Revival and Reinvention (2016). She has many national and international awards and honours to her credit and was awarded the Infosys Prize in Social Sciences – History in 2009.
Session 1E: Public Lecture
R Ramaswamy, JNU, New Delhi
Politics and violence: Ancient debates on a perennial problem
The recognition of the pragmatic need for the king to exercise a certain amount of force while discharging his duties and the positive value attached to the principle of non-violence created an enduring and irresoluble tension in the ancient Indian political thought. Focusing on the ancient debates on political violence in general and war, punishment, and the interface with the forest in particular, this lecture argues that there is no single ‘Indian’ theory of kingship or political violence. Rather, it is highlighted that there have been intense conversations and a variety of responses to the realities and challenges of political practice. The talk explores how the kings need to use force to maintain and strengthen his position was upheld while a distinction was made between necessary force and the force that was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive or random. The lecture further argues that political violence was justified, aestheticized, and almost invisibilized, though a window of questioning and critique remained.