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From Fire To Light : Rereading the Manusmriti

By Arvind Sharma

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About the book

‘To write on the Manusmriti is to play with fire! This statement is not merely metaphorical; the Manusmriti has a history of being literally torched. But where there is fire, there is also the possibility of light.’

Why yet another book on the Manusmriti?

In From Fire to Light, acclaimed academic Arvind Sharma argues that the present understanding of the Manusmriti – regarded as a text designed by the higher castes, especially brahmanas, to oppress the lower castes and women – only tells one side of the story. As he demonstrates, this perception, when examined against textual, commentarial and historical evidence, is limited to the point of being misleading (and sometimes downright wrong).

Providing an alternative reading of the Manusmriti, From Fire to Light accepts some of the conclusions associated with the existing interpretation but presents them in a new light, mitigating and at times contradicting some of its other features. In taking the plural character of the Hindu tradition and the Manusmriti‘shistorical context more deeply into account, it brings about a paradigm shift in our understanding of this ancient text. The Manusmriti emerges as an attempt at social engineering, but of a rather different kind than imagined till now.

Pages: 392

Available in: Paperback

Language: English

Arvind Sharma

Formerly of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Arvind Sharma is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He has also taught in universities in Australia (Queensland, Sydney), the United States (Northeastern, Temple, Boston, Harvard) and India (Nalanda). He has also published extensively in the fields of Indology and comparative religion. He was instrumental, through three global conferences (2006, 2011, 2016), in facilitating the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World’s Religions.

Books authored by him include Gandhi: A Spiritual Biography, Hinduism and Its Sense of History, Religious Tolerance: A History and The Ruler’s Gaze: A Study of British Rule over India from a Saidian Perspective. He is contributing editor of Our Religions: The Seven World Religions Introduced by Preeminent Scholars from Each Tradition, and series editor of the Encyclopedia of Indian Religions.

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