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Inscribing the Other, Inscribing the Self: Hindu-Muslim Identities in Pre-Colonial India Author(s): Cynthia Talbot Reviewed work(s): Source: Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 692-722 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/179206 . Accessed: 07/10/2012 14:40
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Inscribing the Other, Inscribing the Self: Hindu-Muslim Identities in Pre-Colonial India
CYNTHIA TALBOT Universityof Texasat Austin The natureof medievalHindu-Muslim relationsis an issue of greatrelevance in contemporaryIndia. Prior to the 200 years of colonial subjection to the British that ended in 1947, large portions of the Indian subcontinentwere under Muslim political control. An upsurge of Hindu nationalismover the past decade has led to demandsthatthe state rectify past wrongs on behalf of India'smajorityreligion. In the nationalistview, Hindubeliefs were continually suppressedand its institutionsrepeatedlyviolatedduringthe many centuries of Muslim rule from 1200 C.E. onward. The focal point of nationalist sentiment is the most visible symbol of Hinduism, its temples. As many as 60,000 Hindutemples are said to have been torndown by Muslim rulers, and mosques built on 3,000 of those temples' foundations.2The most famous of these alleged formertemple sites is at Ayodhya in North India, long considered the birthplaceof the Hindu god Rama. The movement to liberate this sacred spot, supposedlydefiled in the sixteenthcenturywhen the Babri Masjid mosque was erectedon the ruinsof a Ramatemple, was one of the hottest political issues of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Tensions reached a peak in December 1992, when Hindu militants succeeded in demolishing the mosque.3
Earlierversions of this article were presentedat the 1993 WesternConferenceof the Association for Asian Studies meeting in Mexico City and the 1994 nationalmeeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Boston. I am deeply indebtedto RichardM. Eatonand Phillip B. Wagoner, my fellow panelists on both occasions, whose ideas have so heavily influenced my own. Their editorial assistance is also gratefullyacknowledged, as is the help of Susan M. Deeds. I On Hindunationalism,see Daniel Gold, "Organized Hinduisms:FromVedic Truthto Hindu Observed, MartinE. Martyand R. Scott Appleby, ed. (Chicago: Nation," in Fundamentalisms Universityof Chicago Press, 1991), 531-93; Peter van der Veer,Religious Nationalism:Hindus and Muslims in India (Berkeley: Universityof CaliforniaPress, 1994). 2 Entry for the date 1688 in "HinduTimeline," HinduismToday,December 1994. 3 Fordiscussion of the Ayodhya situation,see AsgharAli Engineer,ed., Politics of Confrontation: The Babri-MasjidRamjanmabhoomi ControversyRuns Riot (Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1992); Ramesh Thakur,"Ayodhya and the Politics of India's Secularism,"Asian Survey, 33:7 (July 1993), 645-64. 0010-4175/95/4393-5303 $7.50 + .10 ? 1995 Societyfor Comparative Studyof Societyand History
Today, Indian Hindus and Muslims see themselves as distinct religious communities, essentially two separate nations occupying the same ground. Hindu nationalisthistorianshave projectedthis vision of separatenessinto the past, statingthatIndianMuslims of the middle ages were a communitytotally different from, and implacablyopposed to, the Hindu majorityon religious grounds.4Moreover, IndianMuslims are defined as a social group that is not indigenous, but of foreign, origin to the subcontinent.This implies that Muslims do not belong in India and have no real rights there. Secular Indian as a historianshave decriedthis interpretation a misrepresentation, readingof the past that modem communal biases distort.5Since most Indian Muslims have descendedfrom convertsand not from immigrants,how can they be cast as an alien group whose way of life differed radically from that of their At erstwhile Hindubrethren? least at the village level, secularhistoriansargue that Hindus and Muslims shareda wide spectrumof customs and beliefs, at times even jointly worshippingthe same saint or holy spot. The dominantscholarlytrendof the past ten yearshas emphasizedcolonialism's impact on identity formation. Because large-scale conflicts between Hindus and Muslims began under colonial rule, the emergence of broadly based community identities during the nineteenthcentury has been closely investigated.6Communalviolence was itself a British constructin some analyses because many otherkinds of social strife were labelled as religious due to the Orientalistassumption that religion was the fundamentaldivision in Indiansociety.7 There is a generalconsensus that it is questionablewhethera Hinduor Muslim identityexisted priorto the nineteenthcenturyin any meaningful sense.8 Paradoxically,given the currentcriticism of the colonial sociology of knowledge and its emphasis on caste, most scholars of the colonial period feel thatpre-colonialsociety was too fragmentedby subcasteand local loyalties to have allowed larger allegiances to emerge.9 The primacy attributed to colonialism in forming contemporaryIndian identities reflects the centralrole of modernityin currenttheoriesof nationalismand the emergence of nation-states.The work of Benedict Anderson,with its stress on the role of
4 For an older example of Hindu nationalisthistoriography,see R. C. Majumdar,"HinduMuslim Relations," in The Strugglefor Empire, vol. 5 of The History and Cultureof the Indian People (Bombay: BharatiyaVidya Bhavan, 1957), 498. 5 Romila Thapar, HarbansMukhia, and Bipan Chandra,Communalismand the Writingof Indian History (Delhi: People's Publishing, 1969); HarbansMukhia, "Communalismand the in Writingof Medieval IndianHistory:A Reappraisal," Perspectiveson Medieval History (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing, 1993), 33-45. 6 Sandria Freitag, Collective Action and Community:Public Arenas and the Emergence of Communalismin North India (Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress, 1989). 7 Gyanendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalismin Colonial North India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990). 8 C. A. Bayly, "The Pre-Historyof 'Communalism'?Religious Conflict in India, 17001860," Modern Asian Studies, 19:2 (1985), 202. 9 Pandey, Constructionof Communalism,199.
has influentialin promotingthe belief that print-capitalism, been particularly identities uniting large numbers of people could arise only after a certain technological level had been attained.?0 No one would deny thatmodernization led to the sharper has articulation of identities encompassingbroadcommunitiesor that such identities have been to "imagined"and "invented" a large extent. Nor can we uncriticallyaccept view thatpostulatesthe inherentand natural roots of national the primordialist and ethnic identity.However, moder identitiesdo not springfully fashioned out of nowhere. They commonly employ the myths and symbols of earlier forms of identitywhich may be less clearly formulatedand more restrictedin circulationbut are nonethelessincipientcores of ethnicity. Thus, this essay joins a mere handfulof otherworks on India, both in its insistencethat supralocal identitiesdid indeed exist in pre-colonialIndia and that these identities themselves were historicallyconstructedand hence constantlyin flux.'2 earlierforms of Hindu-Muslimidentitiesmay help us grasp Understanding the impulses leading to moder communalconflict. It even offers us the dim that hope of defusing present-daytensions by demonstrating the communities of the past were not identicalto those of the present.For, as Sheldon Pollock states in reference to the present Indian situation, "the symbolic meaning system of a political culture is constructed, and perhapsknowing the processes of constructionis a way to control it."13 Particularlycritical is the recognition that Hindu and Muslim identities were not formed in isolation. The reflexive impact of the Other's presence molded the self-definition of both groups-indeed, the label Hinduwas coined by Muslims to describethe people and cultureof the Indian subcontinent.Only after prolonged contact of with Muslims did the earlierinhabitants India adoptthe term. Although it may not be possible to reconstructa detailedpictureof Hindu-Muslim interactions in medievalIndiain termsof actualpracticeand behavior,we can and must recover the history of their mutualand self-perceptions. In asking what it meantto be a Hinduor a Muslimin middle-period India, I AndhraPradeshin the southeastern focus on one particular peninsula, region, from 1323 to 1650 C.E. This periodcommenceswith the collapse of Andhra's indigenousKakatiyadynastyunderrepeatedmilitarypressuresfrom the Delhi Sultanateand ends at the point in time when the last majorHindu dynasty in
10 Imagined Communities:Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 2nd ed. (London:Verso, 1991). 11 Anthony D. Smith, Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford:Basil Blackwell, 1986). 12 Van der and Veer, Religious Nationalism, 12-24; John D. Rogers, "Post-Orientalism the of Interpretation Premodernand Modem Political Identities:The Case of Sri Lanka,"Journalof The Asian Studies, 53:1 (1994), 10-23; David N. Lorenzen, "Introduction: HistoricalVicissitudes of Bhakti Religion," in BhaktiReligion in North India: Community Identityand Political Action, D. Lorenzen, ed. (Albany: State Universityof New YorkPress, 1994), 2-13. 13 Sheldon Pollock, "Ramayana and PoliticalImaginationin India,"Journalof Asian Studies, 52:1 (1993), 264.
Andhra was extinguished. In essence, the years examined span the period from the early stages of Muslim military presence in Andhra to ultimate Muslim dominance. The primarysources utilized consist of approximately 100 recordsinscribedin the Sanskritor Telugulanguages.14 The majorityare situated within Hindu temple complexes, on stone slabs, pillars or walls. Because the vast majorityof inscriptionsdocument the endowment of land and othervaluablesto religious institutions,they are by naturethe productsof the propertiedclass. The perspective on medieval South India that we can obtain from these sources is strictly a privileged one, limited chiefly to the religious and political elites; yet it is from this strata of society that premodem ethnicity typically arose. By utilizing inscriptions,we can get some idea of how the powerful and influentialsegmentsof medieval Hindu society viewed Muslims and, conversely, how they viewed themselves.
THE MUSLIM AS DEMONIC BARBARIAN
The early centuries of Islamic expansionism left South Asia largely untouched. Although the lower Indus valley region of Sind in modernPakistan was conqueredby Arabs in the early eighth century,the effects of the Arab presence were restrictedto the western portions of the subcontinent.From approximately1000 C.E. onward, however, majorcenters of power in northwestern India came under intermittentattack by armies of TurkicMuslims who were based in what is now Afghanistan.These raids into Indianterritory culminated in the seizure of the Delhi region circa 1200 C.E. and in the establishmentof a series of Islamicdynasties, collectively known as the Delhi Sultanate,that survivedinto the early sixteenthcentury.Much of North India came underthe hegemony of the Delhi Sultanatein the early thirteenth century, while Sultanateexpeditionsbegan penetratingSouth India at the very end of the thirteenth century.The most momentousera of contactbetween Islamic and earlier peoples of the Indian subcontinentthus occurred between the eleventh and fourteenthcenturies. The threatfelt by Hindusociety in the face of superiorMuslim force during these initial centuries of interactionled to the political valorization of the ancient Ramayana epic, according to Sheldon Pollock's recent argument. Although the story of the hero-god Rama's conflict with the demonic king Ravana of distant Lanka had circulatedwidely throughoutthe subcontinent and beyond in the previousmillennium,thereare few signs of a temple cult of Rama worship prior to the eleventh century. Nor was Rama imagery often employed in the literature producedat royal courts. After approximately1000
14 The inscriptionsexamined for this study, which all contain some reference to Muslims, were culled from a largercorpusof about 1,600 recordsissued in Andhrain this time period. The existence of another 400 inscriptions from the same era and place has been reportedby the epigraphicalbranchof the ArchaeologicalSurvey of India, but the majorityof these recordsare either heavily damagedor no longer available for consultation.
with the spreadof Ramatemples and the situationchangeddramatically of the frequentappropriation Rama as a model for royal behavior. Pollock believes that this is because Rama's legendary battle against (and victory over) the forces of evil representedby Ravana'sdemon hordes provided a profound symbol for Indian kings beleaguered by Central Asian Muslim warriorsentering the subcontinentin growing numbers. Unlike earlier conquerorsor immigrantswho had been graduallyabsorbedinto Indiancivilization, Indo-Muslimsretainedthe distinctive religious and linguistic practices derived from the high culture of Islamic civilization. Because they were "largely unassimilating,"Muslims were the Otherpar excellence, and their presence heightenedIndiansociety's sense of self. Since the Ramayanaepic a and was "profoundly fundamentally text of 'othering',"in Pollock's words, it was the perfect vehicle for demonizing these alien and dangerous newcomers.15 Inscriptionsfrom Andhraprovide little supportfor Pollock's thesis, as far as the Ramayanaitself is concerned, for there are few directreferencesto the epic story. The demonizationof Muslims thathe arguesconstitutedthe medieval meaning of the epic can be perceived, however, even in the absence of of explicit allusions to Rama. The most negative representations Muslims in Andhrarecordsappearin the immediateaftermathof the cataclysmic events of 1323 C.E., when armed forces of the Delhi Sultanateswept through the Andhra region and caused the collapse of the indigenous Kakatiya royal dynasty. Andhra warriorsunited under the Kakatiyabannerhad repeatedly fought the Turkicarmiesof Delhi duringthe previoustwenty years. This was partof a largerconflict between the Delhi Sultanateand several kingdoms of peninsularIndia that began in 1296 with the Sultanate'sattackon Devagiri, Within a roughly the capital of the Yadavadynasty in moder Maharashtra. span, the four regional kingdoms of peninsularIndia-those quarter-century of the Yadavas,Kakatiyas,Pandyas (of southernTamilNadu) and Hoysalas (of southernKarataka)-disintegrated under the Sultanate'sonslaught. By 1325, virtually all of southernIndia had been subduedby Muslim military force, and existing political networkswere thoroughlydisrupted. The magnitudeof the sociopolitical upheavals that the early fourteenthcenturyMuslim conquestsinducedin peninsularIndia is reflected in the tone of Andhrainscriptionsissued soon thereafter.Particularly strikingis the Vilasa Grantof Prolaya Nayaka, a long copper-plategrant written in Sanskrit and issued sometime after 1325 but before 1350 c.E. 6 The beginningportion of the inscriptionpraisesthe greatnessof Andhra'spreviousKakatiyadynasty The record then goes on to describe the and its last king, Prataparudra.
15 Pollock, "Ramayana and Political Imagination,"282. 16 N. and Sarma,ed., "VilasaGrantof ProlayaNayaka," Venkataramanayya M. Somasekhara EI,32:239-68. Parts of the inscriptionare translatedin M. SomasekharaSarma, A Forgotten Chapterof AndhraHistory (Madras:AnandaPress, 1945), 20, 35-36, 44-45.
hostilities between Prataparudra the lord of the Turks,SultanMuhammad and bin Tughluq. After successfully fighting off the Sultan's army seven times, was Prataparudra eventually capturedand died on the banks of the Narmada river in centralIndia while being takento Delhi as a captive. 7 With the death of the righteousking, KakatiyaPrataparudra, forces of evil became ascenthe dant. In the words of the inscription, "when the sun who was Prataparudra thus set, the pitch darkness of the Turksenveloped the world."18Various proofs of the wicked characterof Muslim rule are next adduced-Brahmins were forced to abandon their sacrificial rites; Hindu temple images were and overturned broken;tax-exemptBrahminvillages confiscated;and cultivators deprivedof theirproduce. Moreover,the vile Muslims were incessant in in drinkingwine, eating beef, and slaying Brahmins.And so, "tortured this the demon-like Yavanasoldiers, the land of Tilinga [Andhra]suffered way by terriblywithout hope of relief, as if it were a forest engulfed by a rampaging fire."'9 Although some Hindu historians of Andhra have accepted the charges contained in the Vilasa grant as evidence of actual Muslim atrocities, the supposeddepravityof the Muslims conforms too closely to a popularliterary convention to be accepted as actual fact. The way that this inscriptionrepresents Muslims echoes the gloomy predictionsof a body of Sanskritliterature known as the puranas, composed duringthe first millenniumC.E. Among the contents of the majorpuranasis the history of India, narrated the form of in royal genealogies that end in the fourthcenturyC.E. with the dynastiesof the Kali age, the fourth and last era in the cycle of time. In the ancient Indian conception, truthand moralitydeclined in each successive era, and one of the main symptoms of the Kali age's degeneracy was the growing strength of foreign dynasties. Because political power would increasinglypass into the hands of foreignersand non-royalIndians, the puranasprophesieda terrible future. People would no longer have respect for the Vedas, the centralritual texts of the Brahmanicaltradition,in a world in which the hierarchicalorder of caste society was inverted throughthe ascendanceof low-rankingcastes over the ritually preeminentBrahmins.20
17 The last two Sultanate expeditionsinto Kakatiyaterritory(in 1321 and 1323 C.E.) were led bin by the man then known by the title Ulugh Khan, who became SultanMuhammad Tughluqin 1325. The Khiljis had conducted several earlier campaignsagainst the Kakatiyas, beginning in 1303 C.E. Althoughthis inscriptionindicatesthattherewere eight Sultanatecampaignsduringthe Muslim sources describe only five (N. Venkataramanayya, The reign of KakatiyaPrataparudra, Early Muslim Expansion in South India [Madras:Universityof Madras, 1942], 23-24, 31-43, 83-85, 99-108, 115-19). 18 Author's translationfrom Sanskrit;Venkataramanayya SomasekharaSarma, "Vilasa and Grant,"verse 21. 19 Author's translationfrom Sanskrit, "Vilasa Grant,"verse 28. 20 Aloka Parasher,Mlecchas in Early India; a Study in Attitudestowards Foreigners (New Delhi: MunshiramManoharlal, 1991), 121-4 and 240-3; Romila Thapar, "The Image of the Barbarianin Early India," ComparativeStudies in Society and History, 13:4 (1971), 420-1.
The historical memories embedded in the puranasreflect the anxieties of their Brahmincomposers and preserversin the period between the second century B.C.E. and the third century C.E.-a time when numerous peoples entered India from the northwestand, simultaneously,an era when the nonBrahmanicalreligion, Buddhism, achieved its greatest popularity. Similar fears of a loss of statusresurfacedin the much laterVilasa grantof fourteenthcenturyAndhra,duringanothertime of turbulence,when Brahmanical privilege was threatened.The Turkswho invadedmedievalAndhraare said to have oppressed Brahmins and suppressed religious practice, just as the earlier foreign invadersof the ancientperiod supposedlyhad done. It is notable that most of the evil acts attributed Muslims in the Vilasa grant-confiscating to endowed to Brahmins, destroyingBrahmin-controlled temples, and villages ritual sacrifices performed by Brahmins-directly affected the ending Brahminsegment of the Andhrapopulation.The majorityof the people, the cultivators,are said to have sufferedbecause theircrops were confiscated, but The depiction of Musthis accusationis appendedalmost as an afterthought. lim behaviorin the Vilasa grant is formulaic, in other words, and follows a tradition. patternexpected of foreign groups in the Brahmanical In the Sanskritliteratureof ancient and medieval India, foreigners were frequentlydescribed as mleccha. The best English translationof mleccha is for barbarian, the word clearly connotes a lack of cultureand civilization. By the end of the first millenniumB.C.E., mleccha was appliednot only to aliens but also to indigenoustribes-communities who were not partof the agrarian caste society of Indic civilization.21As RomilaThaparhas pointedout, mlecIt cha was hence primarily"a signal of social and culturaldifference."22 was a generic category into which all social groups lacking an adherence to of Brahmanical normswere thrust.Among the early barbarians foreign origin and often mentionedin the puranaswere the Yavanas Shakas.Yavana,derived from Ionian, originally referredto the Hellenistic dynasties that controlled large areas of northwesternIndia and Afghanistan in the second century B.C.E. These Indo-Greeksor Yavanas were displaced by another invading group, the Shakasof CentralAsia, in the first centuryB.C.E. The Shakassoon lost their hegemony over the entire northwestbut remainedentrenchedin the Gujaratregion of western India until the fourthcenturyC.E. The names Yavanaand Shaka were revived in medieval India to designate As Muslims, along with the characterizationof barbarian.23 with earlier
ModernAsian Studies, 23:2 (1989), 224. Search for a Hindu Identity," 23 North Indian uses of these terms are frequent as well, see Ram Shankar Avasty and in Amalananda Ghosh, "Referencesto Muhammadans SanskritInscriptionsin NorthernIndiaA.D. 730 to 1320," Journalof IndianHistory, 16 (1936), 24-26 and 17 (1937), 161-84; Pushpa Prasad, SanskritInscriptionsof the Delhi Sultanate (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990).
22 Romila Thapar, "Imagined Religious Communities? Ancient History and the Modem
Parasher,Mlecchas in Early India, 45 and 213.
Others, whetherforeign invadersor indigenous tribalpeoples, those following the Brahmanicaltraditionwere not concerned with the specifics of Islamic belief. What was significant was their common failure to uphold the hierarchicalorder of caste or, in short, Brahmanicalprivilege. This is why Muslims could be called by the same names as barbarianpeoples of the ancient period, such as the Yavanasor Shakas. In anothertransposition,the Muslim barbarian could be equated with all beings hostile to the Brahmanical order. And, thus, Muslims were demonized, that is, representedas being like the demons of ancient myth who engaged in endless battle against the forces of good. Assimilating Muslims to the mythological category of demons and substitutingthe names of various other foreign groups for them erased the distinctivenessof Muslims. All that mattersin this perspective is their Otherness. The very fact thatMuslims could be incorporated a generic categoryof into barbarianspresupposes an existing sense of identity, at least among the Brahmincomposers of Sanskritliterarytexts and inscriptions.A Brahmin, if not Hindu, consciousness clearly predatedthe Muslim entry into the Indian subcontinent.Upholding Brahminpreeminencein a hierarchicalsociety was the critical featureof this orthodoxidentity.In this respect, I take my stance with scholars like Anthony D. Smith, who believe that there are shared elements which unify membersof an ethnic group and that the attribution of alienness derives from a pre-existingsense of sharedexperience.24Othersput more stress on the importanceof boundariesin the formationof ethnicity, ratherthanon any commonly held content. For example, JohnA. Armstrong, following the Norwegian anthropologist,FredrikBarth, thinks that groups define themselves primarilyby exclusion. This explains how ethnic identities can persist for so long, even when the compositionof the group changes.25 Identityformationin praxis always involves both processes-the articulation of group boundaries that excludes others and the development of internal criteria for solidarity. These complementaryaspects of ethnicity have been aptly described as "us-hood"and "we-hood,"respectively, by Thomas Hylland Eriksen.26In the case of pre-modernIndia, it is clear that a persistent core of Brahminidentity-a definite "we-hood"-had existed since ancient
Smith, Ethnic Origins of Nations, 49. JohnA. Armstrong,Nations beforeNationalism(ChapelHill: Universityof NorthCarolina Press, 1982), 3-7. For more on boundariesbetween groups, see Kerwin L. Klein, "Frontier Tales:The Narrative Construction Cultural of Bordersin Twentieth-Century California,"Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34:3 (July 1992), 464-90. 26 "Nationalism,Mauritian Style: CulturalUnity and Ethnic Diversity,"ComparativeStudies in Society and History, 36:3 (July 1994), 566-7. 27 Cynthia Kepley Mahmood, "Rethinking Indian Communalism: Culture and CounterCulture,"Asian Survey,33:7 (1993), 722-37; WendyDoniger, "Hinduismby Any OtherName," Wilson Quarterly, 15:3 (1991), 35-41.
IN A FRONTIER SETTING
Althoughthe emergenceof a sense of Hinduunitycan notbe attributed solely to the stimulus of an opposing Muslim community, it is widely recognized that prolonged confrontation between different groups intensifies selfidentities. While I believe thatthe Brahmanical traditionhad a degree of selfawareness before the presence of Muslims, it seems that a broader, more inclusive, Indic identity began to develop after the Muslim polities were foundedin SouthAsia. One sign of this is the non-Muslimwriters'adoptionof the designationHindu,whichbeginsto figurein Andhra from 1352 inscriptions C.E. onward, in the title "SultanamongHindukings"(Hindu-raya-suratrana) assumed by several kings of the Vijayanagara empire.28To the best of my knowledge, this is the earliest dated usage of the term Hindu in any Indian languagesource. Hinduwas originallythe Persianname for the Indusriverof modem Pakistan,but the Arabs first includedthe entire Indian subcontinent
under the rubric, "the land of the Hind" (al-Hind). By the eleventh century,
Hindu had come to mean "the inhabitantsof India"in Persian, the literary warriors the Delhi Sultanate.29 of Whenthe by languagepatronized the Turkish South India invented the kings of mid-fourteenth-century early Vijayanagara title "Sultanamong Hindu Kings," they were borrowingboth a phraseand a conception of being Indianthat had originatedin Muslim society.30 The fact that some non-Muslimscalled themselves Hindu in fourteenthcentury South India does not imply that a unified religious consciousness developed in this period, however, contraryto the currentHindu nationalist view. Even amongMuslims, the termHinduinitiallymeanta residentof India ratherthan a person holding certain non-Islamicreligious beliefs. Not until writtenin India routinelyuse the late thirteenthcenturydid Persianliterature Hindu as a religious designation.31When the Vijayanagara kings said that Hindukings, they were most probablydeclaring they were the sultansamong status among the non-Turkish their paramount polities of the peninsula. That to them Hindu meant Indic as opposed to Turkish, not "of the Hindu is, the religion" as opposed to "of the Islamic religion." In this interpretation, definition of the self as Hindu can be seen as a sign of an incipient Indic ethnicity-incorporating territorialassociations, language, a common past and customs, as well as religious affiliation-for ethnicity is composed of numerouselements, unlike linguistic or religious identity.Which of the sevethnicgroup eral aspectsof commonalityis most emphasizedin any particular
28 SII, 16.4; NDI copper-plate10 and Kanigiri23; El 13.1; N. Ramesan,"TheKrakuGrantof and HariharaII," in Epigraphia Andhrica, vol. 2, N. Venkataramanayya P. V. Parabrahma Governmentof AndhraPradesh, 1974), 73-87. Sastry,ed. (Hyderabad: 29 Carl W. Ernst, Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center (Albany: State Universityof New YorkPress, 1992), 22-23. 30 AndreWink, EarlyMedievalIndia and the Expansionof Islam, vol. 1, pp. 190 and5, of AlHind: The Making of the Indo-lslamic World(Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990). 31 Ernst, Eternal Garden, 24-25.
can vary considerably.32 the perceptionof sharinga whole set of traditions But that differentiatesone group from anotheris crucial to ethnic identity. Supportfor my assertionthat the fourteenth-century epigraphicalmeaning of Hinduwas not primarilya religious one comes from the negative evidence that the terms Islam and Muslim (in its Persian variant, Musalman) never figure in Andhrainscriptionsof the fourteenththroughmid-seventeenthcenturies. The Vilasa grantof ProlayaNayakainsteaduses the ethnic labels Turk Persian (Parasika),and Greek (Yavana)for Muslims. Nor do we (Turushka), get any allusion to Islamicreligious beliefs or doctrine,otherthanthe prohibition against eating pork. Inscriptionsfrom other areasof the Indiansubcontinent during the first centuries of contact are similarly silent about Islamic The Turkicintruderswere religion and the Islamic affiliationof the Turks.33 certainlyconsideredto be a people other than the earlierinhabitants,but the sense of difference was not groundedprimarilyon a religious base.34 If religion was not the centralfeatureof a buddingHinduself-identity,how do we explain the demonic representations Muslims in early fourteenthof To centuryAndhrainscriptions? answerthis question, we must first recognize that these records arose in the context of an advancing zone of military conflict. In frontierconditions such as these, large-scaledestructionof existing sociopolitical networks is common, resulting in widespreaduncertainty and feelings of crisis. At the same time, becauseof the rapidchange occurring in a frontiersetting, new sociopolitical groups are coalescing. Hence, frontiers are prime settings for ethnogenesis-the formationof new ethnic identities.35 With war almost endemic along an active frontier,people were often broughttogetherthroughsome type of militaryassociation. The Franksof the late Roman Empire, for instance, were basically a confederationof warriors assembled aroundkings claiming descent from the war god, Odin.36
32 George de Vos, "Ethnic Pluralism: Conflict and Accommodation," in Ethnic Identity: Cultural Continuitiesand Change, George de Vos and Lola Romanucci-Ross, ed. (Palo Alto: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1975), 9-18; Charles F. Keyes, "The Dialectics of Ethnic Change," in Ethnic Change (Seattle: Universityof WashingtonPress, 1981), 7-10. 33 Thapar, "ImaginedReligious Communities?,"77-78; Pollock, "Ramayanaand Political Imagination,"286. 34 In this early period, the majorityof Muslims in India most probablywere either foreign immigrants or their descendants. They were thus marked with many distinctive non-Indian features in areas such as dress and food, in addition to their separatelanguages and religious beliefs. As the numberof convertsto Islamincreased,the initialsense of ethnic separateness must have faded, explaining why ethnic referentswere largely discardedin favorof the religious label Musalmanin the Andhraof latercenturies.Verylittle researchhas been conductedon conversion to Islam in medieval South India, unfortunately, it is not possible to pinpointwhen the trend so emerged. 35 David A. Chappell, "Ethnogenesisand Frontiers,"Journal of WorldHistory, 4:2 (1993), AfricanFrontier: The Makingof AfricanPolitical Culture," 267-75; Igor Kopytoff,"TheInternal in The African Frontier:The Reproduction TraditionalAfrican Societies, Igor Kopytoff, ed. of (Bloomington: IndianaUniversity Press, 1987). 36 David HarryMiller, "Ethnogenesisand Religious Revitalizationbeyond the Roman Frontier: The Case of FrankishOrigins,"Journal of WorldHistory, 4:2 (1993), 277-85.
In the case of fourteenth-century Andhra,the armedincursionsof the Delhi Sultanatetoppled the upper level of the political system when the Kakatiya dynasty was extinguished. But since the Kakatiyapolity was a loosely knit of bands, the loss of the capitaldid not mean the eliminaorganization warrior tion of all armedresistance.37ProlayaNayakaand other warriorswho were entrenchedin the localities continuedto fight the Delhi Sultanate,which was also beset with internalstrife. As quickly as the tide of conflict had washed over Andhra, it receded. By the 1340s, Muslim control in Andhraextended only over its extreme western sector. What was left behind, in this frontier borderland,was a power vacuum. Presumably,the principal Kakatiya military leaders either died or were capturedin the last days of the kingdom'sdefense;for none of them appearin inscriptionsissued afterthe demise of the Kakatiyas.Instead, a totally different group of warriorsfigure in Andhrainscriptionsof the 1330s and later. ProlayaNayaka, who had the Vilasa grantcomposed, was the first memberof the Musunurilineage to leave behindhistoricaltraces. Rising from what must have been a humblebackground,he carvedout a sizable domainfor himself in the chaos following the Delhi Sultanate'sincursions. A second man, Vema Reddi, is likewise the first historic figure in the KondaviduReddi lineage. Unlike Prolaya Nayaka's lineage, which waned rapidly, the Reddi lineage dominated coastal Andhrafor nearly a century. Both of these men alleged prior association with the Kakatiyadynasty, and their descendants proudly publicizedthis connection. While it is possible thatthey may have held minor thereis no independent positions undersome Kakatiyasubordinate, testimony to corroborate assertion.It is more likely thatthe claim to have served the this Kakatiyasstemmed from a desire to bolster their own tenuous positions. Additionally,both ProlayaNayakaand Vema Reddi emulateda classically royal style of behaviorby making generous benefactionsto Brahmins. The explicit purposeof ProlayaNayaka'sVilasa grantwas to documenta village endowmentto a learnedBrahminin Kona-sima,a small areain the delta of the of Godavaririver that even today is the heartland Brahminscholasticism and ritualismin Andhra.Vema Reddi's MadrasMuseumPlates of 1345 C.E. was also a copper-plategrant recording the transferof a village to a Brahmin recipient.38Several other upwardly mobile warriors of fourteenth-century Andhra similarly boasted that they restoredtax-free villages confiscated by the Turksto their rightfulBrahminproprietors.Generally,these endowments were recordedin Sanskriton copper plates, a traditionally kingly type of gift and inscriptionalmedium.39
37 Cynthia Talbot, "Political Intermediaries KakatiyaAndhra, 1175-1325," Indian Ecoin nomic and Social History Review, 31:3 (1994), 261-89. 38 J. Ramayya, ed., "MadrasMuseum Plates of Vema,"El, 8:9-24. 39 People of less elevated status typically made religious gifts to temples rather than to Brahminsin this period, and had theirbenefactionsrecordedin stone at the endowed temple. The most widespreadgift was that of milk-bearinganimals to provide oil for temple lamps.
In theirquest for acceptanceas legitimatekings, chiefs like ProlayaNayaka and Vema Reddi sought the most prestigioussupportpossible. That included not only the use of the all-Indialiterarylanguageof Sanskrit,the patronageof Brahmins,and the memoryof the previousKakatiyadynastybut also the rich symbolism of the age-old fight against demons and disorder. This is the context for the Vilasa grant's demonizationof the Turks.As previously described, this document bemoans the unfortunatestate of Andhra after the Turksconquered the Kakatiyas. But all was not lost. The grant goes on to inform us that the depredationsof the evil Muslims were halted by a savior, Prolaya Nayaka, who appearedalmost miraculously,like an incarnationof the god Vishnu descending from heaven out of pity for the peoples' suffering. Prolaya Nayaka resurrectedrighteousness (dharma) by reestablishing Brahmin villages, reviving Vedic sacrifices, and restrictinghimself to the lawful portion of the peasants' crops in revenue. He thereby "purifiedthe lands of the Andhraswhich were contaminatedby sin because the Turkshad passed throughthem."40By grantinga village to a learnedBrahmin,Prolaya Nayakacould thus representhimself in the Vilasa grantas restoringorderto a world that the Muslim incursionshad disordered.Vema Reddi also sought to portray himself in the Madras Museum Plates as a protector dF Brahmins when he boastedthat he had "recoveredall the Brahminvillageg thathad been appropriated the wicked barbarian by kings since the time of Prataparudra, who was the jewel in the crown of the Kakatiyaclan."41 The use of tropes drawn from the Brahmintraditiondoes not indicate that the upstartwarriorsof fourteenth-century Andhrawere religiously motivated in their actions. Nor can we assume that the pejorative language of these inscriptionsreflects a deep hatredof the Muslim, much less proof of Muslim atrocities. But in a turbulentsituation, where earliersources of authorityhad been destroyed, the newly risen warriorleaders were attemptingto mobilize public opinion and gain allegiance. One of the easiest ways of doing this was and by resortingto older Brahmanical conceptionsof barbarians their demonic behavior. Elsewhere outside of India, pre-modernpolitical elites similarly employed religious myths and symbols because they were the most resonant images in a collective social memorytransmitted largely by religious institutions and specialists.42 By accentuatingthe threat from Muslims and their Andhracould sucstrange alien ways, aspiring kings in fourteenth-century cast themselves in the role of defendersof the Indic social order,the cessfully most essential justification for kingly status. The representations Muslims of as demons may thereforehave been instrumental is, secondary)to the (that primarygoal of providingAndhrawarriorlineages with a securenotion of self
40 Author's translationfrom Sanskrit;Venkataramanayya and SomasekharaSarma, "Vilasa Grant,"verse 37. 41 Author's translationfrom Sanskritin Ramayya;"MadrasMuseum Plates," verse 12. 42 Smith, Ethnic Origins of Nations, 58-67; Armstrong, Nations Before Nationalism, 201-40.
and legitimate authority.In other words, the self-identity of an emerging warriorelite in Andhrawas strengthened throughrecourseto traditionalnotions of the enemy Other.
COLLABORATION AND ACCOMMODATION ON THE OPEN FRONTIER
For the past severaldecades, historianshave extendedthe frontierparadigmto many societies outside of the United States.43Yet, unlike its westerncounterpart, the Christian-Islamicfrontierin medieval Europe, the Muslim-Hindu frontier in medieval India has been virtually overlooked. One exception is RichardM. Eaton's work on Bengal.44He differentiates political frontier the of Islam, which moved eastwardmost rapidly,from the religious frontierof frontierwas an agrarian in which forest land one allegianceto Islam. A further was broughtundersettled agriculture.Wherethe agrarian religious fronand tiers coincided for the most part, groups only recently introducedto settled agricultureidentified Islam as a civilization-buildingideology, a religion of the plow. As a result, the majorityof the rice-cultivating populationin eastern Bengal (moder Bangladesh) eventually became adherentsof Islam. Islam never attainedsuch religious dominancein South India, however, where the numberof Muslims remainedfairly low. Nonetheless, Muslim regimes were embeddedin the peninsula'sgeo-politicallandscapeafterthe early fourteenth century.The continuingSouth Indianpolitical frontierbetween Muslim and as Hinducan be characterized "open,"since neitherside hadcompletehegemony.45 Fromthe early fifteenththroughmid-sixteenthcenturies,a relatively stable balance of power was maintainedbetween three majorpower centers in the portionof peninsula.A Muslimpolity of some sortoccupiedthe northwestern and The first the peninsulain what is today Maharashtra northern Karnataka. to be establishedwas the Bahmanisultanate,which broke off from the Delhi sultanatein 1347. Subsequently,several other sultanateswere formed out of portionsof the Bahmanirealm. Of these, the Adil Shahi kingdom of Bijapur and the Qutb Shahi kingdomof Golkondahad the biggest impacton Andhra. Opposed to the sultanates of the peninsula's northwesterncorer was the controlled empire. Underits first threedynasties, Vijayanagara Vijayanagara
43 For example, DietrichGerhard,"TheFrontierin Comparative Studies View," Comparative in Society and History, 1:3 (1959), 205-29; RobertBartlettand Angus MacKay,ed., Medieval FrontierSocieties (Oxford:ClarendonPress, 1989); HowardLamarand LeonardThompson,ed., The Frontier in History: North American and SouthernAfrica Compared(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981); William H. McNeill, "The Great Frontier:Freedomand Hierarchyin Modem Times," in The Global Condition(Princeton:PrincetonUniversityPress, 1992), 5-63. 44 The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier,1204-1760 (Berkeley:Universityof California Press, 1993). An additionalexception is John F. Richards, "The Islamic Frontierin the East: Expansioninto South Asia," SouthAsia n.s., 4 (October 1974), 90-109. 45 LeonardThompsonand HowardLamar,"Comparative Frontier History,"in TheFrontierin History: North American and SouthernAfrica Compared,H. Lamarand L. Thompson, ed., 7 and 10.
most of the southernportion of the peninsula, the area south of the Krishna river encompassing much of modern southernKarnataka,southernAndhra, and the Tamilcountry.Two successive Hindudynasties-the EasternGangas and Gajapatis-held sway over the northeasternportion of the peninsula border.The areas in between were hotly contested along the Orissa-Andhra and vulnerableto militarycampaignsthatcould lead to temporary extensions of borders, but the nuclearzones of these respectivepowers remainedintact. Within Andhra itself, the Muslim presence was confined primarilyto the northwestern portion of the modernstate's expanse.46 In this context of relative stability,quite differentrepresentations Musof lims surface in Andhrainscriptions.Throughoutthe fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Muslims figure mainly as mighty warriors.Victories over Muslims were lauded in the heroic titles of Hindukings and chiefs or praised in theirgenealogies. Sometimesspecific Muslimkings or generalsare named, but more often generic labels for Muslims were used. So, for example, it was said of Devaraya I of the Vijayanagara empire in 1465 C.E. that "even the powerfulTurkswere driedup in the fire of the prowess of this king."47In this type of reference, one gets little sense that the Muslim is any more than a typical, if respected, foe. Inscriptionaleulogies of the Tuluvakings of Vijayanagara'ssecond dynasty list the Turkalong with non-Muslim enemies conqueredby the dynastic founder, such as the Chera, Chola, and Gajapati kings.48 In other words, Muslims are depicted as respectedpolitical rivals, just like the other majorHindu powers of the peninsula. Phillip B. Wagonersuggests thatshifts in the balanceof power affectedthe attitudeof South Indianelites towardMuslims and delineatesthreephases on that basis. From roughly 1300 to 1420 C.E., Hindu polities were on the defensive, and an anti-Turkic polemic was widespread. During the second phase (from circa 1420 to 1565), however, greater appreciationof Turkic culture is expressed in Hindu literature.This state of affairs correspondsin time with the apex of the Vijayanagaraempire. The sacking of the Vijayanagaracapital by a confederacy of Muslim states in 1565 ushered in anotherperiod of defensive polemics. Yet by the time this third phase occurred,many aspects of Islamic materialcultureand administrative technique had been assimilated by the non-Muslimpeoples of South India.49Inscrip46
John F. Richards, Mughal Administration Golconda (Oxford: ClarendonPress, 1975), in
47 Based on translation T. A. of Platesof Virupaksha: Saka Samvat Rao, "Srisailam Gopinatha 1388," EI 15:24. 48 SII 16.47; P. V. Parabrahma Sastry,"The Polepalli Grantof Achyutaraya,"in Epigraphia Andhrica, vol. 4, P. V. Parabrahma Governmentof AndhraPradesh, Sastry, ed. (Hyderabad: 1975), 133-40; N. Ramesan, ed., "The JadavalliGrant of Sadasivaraya,"in Copper Plate Governmentof AndhraPradesh, 1970), Inscriptions of the State Museum, vol. 2 (Hyderabad: 21-28. 49 Phillip B. Wagoner,"Understanding Islamat Vijayanagara" (Paperpresentedat the meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Boston, April 1994).
tional datafrom Andhraconfirmsthe generalvalidityof Wagoner'sthesis that the representationsof Muslims varied according to the success of Hindu polities in restrainingMuslim power. The anti-Muslimrhetoricof the Vilasa grant occurred during phase one, when Andhrasociety was in a defensive posture. But, from the early fifteenth throughmid-sixteenthcenturies, there was little dramaticchange in the power balance, and tensions subsided momentarily.Hence, in this second phase, we witness no demonizationof the Muslim. Ratherthan an anti-Muslimpolemic, the inscriptionalsources display a tolerance of Muslim warriorsand political power. Along the quiet South India, the Muslim presence was accepted frontierof fifteenth-century ratherthan rejected. vision of the frontieras an uninhabitedwilderFrederickJacksonTurner's ness subduedby heroic individualismhas long been rejected in favor of an of understanding frontiersas broad zones in which two societies encounter each other.50Their contact may be violent in nature,particularly during the initial stages of encroachmentby membersof the intrudingsociety. But it is not uncommonfor frontiersocieties to maintainan equilibriumfor consideris able periodsof time, once this first violent confrontation over. At aboutthe same time that Hindu-Muslim relationsin South India were going througha tranquilphase, the frontierbetween the IberianChristiankingdom of Castile and the Muslim kingdom of Granadawas stationary(1369 to 1482 c.E.).51 Faced with the practicalrealityof coexistence, a numberof institutionsspeciwere developedthere, includfically designedto facilitatemutualtransactions ing procedures for negotiating truces and redeeming captives. Among the elite, alliances were formed that ignored differencesin religion, while common people sometimes crossed the frontierand even converted to the other religion. Knowledge of each other's ways was widespread-in effect, a subhad taken place. stantialdegree of acculturation Since a majorityof medievalSouth India'spopulationcontinuedto be nonMuslim populationeven within the regions where Muslims were politically dominant,the two societies always overlapped.A certainamountof cooperation and collaborationis to be expected in this setting.52The Muslim polities of the peninsula were dependent on Hindu officials and warriors for tax Poets of Andhra's collection and maintenanceof order in the countryside.53
50 Robert I. Bums, "The Significance of the Frontier in the Middle Ages," in Medieval FrontierSocieties, R. Bartlettand A. MacKay,ed., 307-12. 51 Jose in on Frontier," EnriqueLopez de Coca Castaner,"Institutions the Castilian-Granadan MedievalFrontierSocieties, R. Bartlettand A. MacKay,ed., 127-50; Angus McKay,"Religion, 217-22. Cultureand Ideology on the Late Medieval Castilian-Granadan Frontier," 52 For more positive coverage of Hindu-Muslim relationsin medieval India, see H. K. Sherwani, "CulturalSynthesis in Medieval India," Journal of Indian History, 41 (1963), 239-59; W. H. Siddiqi, "ReligiousToleranceas Gleanedfrom Medieval Inscriptions,"in Proceedingsof Seminaron MedievalInscriptions(Aligarh:Centreof AdvancedStudy,Dept. of History,Aligarh Muslim University, 1974), 50-58. 53 Stewart Gordon, The Marathas, 1600-1818 (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, in 1993), 41-58; Richards,Mughal Administration Golconda, 18-33.
vernacularlanguage, Telugu, were generously patronizedat the court of the sixteenth-centuryQutb Shahi kingdom that also issued many of its inscriptions in a bilingual format.54Conversely, Muslim expertise in military and administrative affairswas admiredand adoptedby their rival Hindu polities. The Vijayanagara armyincludedcontingentsof Muslim on horseback,a tacit of Muslim superiorityin cavalry warfare.55Many secular acknowledgment structuresat the Vijayanagara capitalexhibit an originalIndo-Islamicstyle of of with domes and arches.56 architecture, complete Adaptations Muslim dress were also featuredon formalcourtoccasions.57Nor did the ostensible demarcation between Hinduand Muslim preventmilitaryand maritalalliances from being formed across religious boundariesin this periodof South Indianhistory. These centuries of contact and interactionalso resulted in an influx of Persian and Arabic words into the Telugulanguage.58Many parallelscan be drawn between medieval Spain and medieval South India, in terms of the prevalence of culturaladaptationsand borrowing. In one significant aspect, however, the Hindu-Muslim encounterin medieval South India differedfrom those of Christiansand Muslims describedby Charles J. Halperin.59Two of Halperin'scase studies involve the Christian Valencia in Spain and the crusader conquest of Muslims (thirteenth-century kingdom of Jerusalem), whereas the two others are examples of Muslim intrusion into Christian regions (the absorption of Byzantine territory by Arabs, Seljuk Turksand Ottomans;and the rule of the Mongol Golden Horde over Russia). According to Halperin, cultural synthesis and tolerance were displayed primarilywhen the intrudershad not yet established total superiority. It was thus a functionof the practicalneed for compromise.Cooperation violated the exclusivist thrustof Christianityand Islam, however, and so was never publicly discussed. In theory, the two groups remained implacably opposed, despite the considerablecollaborationin practice. The ideology of silence concerning mutual influence and borrowing enabled medieval religious frontiersocieties to ignore the contradictionbetween theory and practice. In contrast to the ideological negation of the other society found within
54 K. Lakshmi Ranjanam,"Languageand Literature: Telugu,"in Historyof MedievalDeccan, vol. 2, H. K. Sherwaniand P. M. Joshi, ed. (Hyderabad: Government AndhraPradesh, 1974), of 161-3. An example of a bilingual inscriptionis ARIE No. 48 of 1970-71. 55 Stein, Vijayanagara,29; K. NilakantaSastriand N. FurtherSources of Venkataramanayya, VijayanagaraHistory, 3 vols. (Madras:University of Madras, 1946), vol. 1, 106-8 and 267. 56 JohnM. Fritz, George Michell, and M. S. Nagaraja Rao, WhereKings and Gods Meet: The Royal Centreat Vijayanagara,India (Tucson:Universityof Arizona Press, 1984), 122-45. 57 Phillip B. Wagoner,"'Sultan among HinduKings': Dress, Address,and the Islamicization of HinduCultureat Vijayanagara" (Paperpresentedat RockefellerHumanitiesWorkshop, "Shaping Indo-MuslimIdentity in Pre-Modem India," Duke University, Durham, NC, April 1995). 58 K. Iswara Dutt, Inscriptional Glossary of Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad:A. P. Sahitya Akademi, 1967), cxxv; Lakshmi Ranjanam,"Languageand Literature: Telugu," 172. 59 "The Ideology of Silence: Prejudiceand Pragmatismon the Medieval Religious Frontier," ComparativeStudies in Society and History, 26:3 (1984), 442-66.
Christian-Muslimfrontierzones, an explicit scheme of accommodationcan be found in the Hindu sources of medieval Andhra. This paradigm, which incorporatedMuslim polities, appears from the early fifteenth century onward. It posits the existence of three majorkings-the Ashvapatior Lord of or Horses, the Gajapatior Lord of Elephants,and the Narapati Lord of Men. Each element of the triad-horses, elephants, and men-forms a contingent in the traditional Indianarmy.Royal titles proclaiminga single king to be lord of the cavalry, elephant corps, and infantry are found elsewhere in India duringthe middle ages.60But late medieval South Indiawas unique in dividing the various parts of an army and assigning each to a particulardynasty. The first of the titles to be assumedwas Lordof the ElephantCorps, adopted by the Eastern Ganga kings of the Orissa-Andhraregion as early as the The subsequentkings of this northeastern thirteenthcentury.61 portionof the peninsula(fl. 1434-1538 C.E.) used the epithetGajapati,or Lordof Elephant Forces, so frequentlythat it has become their dynasticlabel in moder histocoast had indeed been famous riography.The heavily forestedOrissa-Andhra since ancienttimes for the excellence of its elephants. By a logical corollary, were to India, where the best horses in the subcontinent kings of northwestern A be found, deserved to be called the Lord of Horses or Cavalry.62 dynasty without access to superiorelephants or horses-as was the case in the dry interiorof South India-would by default gain the epithet, Lord of Infantry. The conception of a geo-political universe divided into three realms, each ruled by a king laying claim to superiorityin one contingentof an army, is first witnessed in an Andhra inscriptionof 1423 C.E.63The most detailed treatmentis found in a Telugu chronicle of the late sixteenth century, the Rayavacakamu. In this work, the Lord of Men (Narapati)is the king of Vijayanagara,the Lord of Elephants(Gajapati)is the Orissanking, and the
60 Phillip B. Wagoner,Tidingsof the King: A Translation and Ethnohistorical Analysis of the Rayavacakamu(Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993), 178 n. 49; Prasad, SanskritInscriptions, 56. 61 C. V. Ramachandra and Rao, Administration Society in MedievalAndhra(A.D. 1038-1538) under the Later Eastern Gangas and the SuryavamsaGajapatis (Nellore: ManasaPublications, 1976), 85-86. 62 I thankThomas R. Trautmann for bringingthe correlationbetween the geographicallocation of these lords and the distributionof horses and elephants to my attention. For more on "Elephantsand the Mauryas,"in India: History and elephants in ancient India, see Trautmann, Thought, Essays in Honour of A. L. Basham, S. N. Mukherjee,ed. (Calcutta:Subarnarekha, 1982), 263-6. For a discussion of the quality of horses duringthe medieval period, see Simon Digby, WarHorse and Elephantin the Delhi Sultanate(Oxford:OrientMonographs,1971), 2131. 63 The Kaluvacherugrant of the Reddi queen Anitalli, partially published in Somasekhara Sarma, ForgottenChapter, 111-2. This Sanskritinscriptionidentifies the Lord of Elephantsas in the king of Utkala(a sub-regionof Orissa),the Lordof Horsesas the rulerof the territories the the west, and the Lordof Men as KakatiyaPrataparudra, Andhraking. In this instance, the Lord of Horses in the west must referto the BahmaniSultanate,which controlledthe territoriesto the immediatewest of northernAndhraduringthe early fifteenth century.
Lord of Horses (Ashvapati) is the Mughal emperor of northernIndia. The Mughals had replaced the Delhi Sultanateas the supremeMuslim polity in the subcontinent in the first half of the sixteenth century. Previously, the Rayavacakamutells us, the sultanof Delhi was the Lord of Horses. The text calls the Lords of Horses, Elephants, and Men the occupants of the "Three Lion Thrones," as opposed to other petty kings who lacked legitimacy. Not only did the Lords of Horses, Elephants, and Men possess authorityas the rulers of ancient and prosperouskingdoms, but they also exemplified royal righteousness. As the text's translator,Phillip B. Wagoner,points out, the three Lion Thrones were regardedas emanationsof the three main gods of Hinduism-Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.64 More commonly in Andhrasources, the Lordof the Horses designatednot a North IndianMuslim dynastybut a local Muslim polity of the peninsula. At times the title was appliedto the Bahmanisultansin oppositionto the Gajapati Or kings of Orissa and the Narapatikings of Vijayanagara.65 it could refer to of the leaders of the successor states that arose after the division of the any BahmaniSultanate.In otherwords, the Lordof Horses was a designationthat could signify any Muslim king. The Qutb Shahs of western Andhra even the appropriated title in a Telugu inscriptionof 1600 C.E., in which we are informedthatKing Mahmudwas rulingfrom the Lordof the Cavalry'sthrone at Golkonda.66 The concept of a triadof lords must have been widely known, indeed, for a Muslim polity to use it in reference to itself. Allusions to the three lords occur as late as circa 1800 C.E., when Andhravillage histories were collected under the direction of Colin Mackenzie.67The notion of a triple division of power is also embodied in the PrataparudraCaritramu,a Telugu prose history of the Kakatiyadynasty composed in the early to midsixteenth century.68 The tripartitescheme of the Lords of Horses, Elephantsand Men can be on interpreted one level as a pragmaticacceptanceof the geo-politicalrealities of the Indianpeninsuladuringthe fifteenthand sixteenthcenturies. When the Bahmani Sultanate was established in 1347 C.E., the Muslim presence in the area had become firmly entrenched;it was now an inescapablefact. Yet the natureof this three-foldclassification also suggests that Muslim polities were viewed as legitimate powers, ranking equally with the great Hindu dynasties of Orissa and Vijayanagara.Just as the Hindu Lords of Elephants and Men were granteddivine sanctionin the Rayavacakamu, which described
Andugula Venkayya'sNarapati Vijayamu,cited in Lakshmi Ranjanam,"Languageand Literature: Telugu," 165. Mahalingam,ed., Summariesof the Historical Manuscriptsin the MackenzieCollection, vol. 2 (Madras:University of Madras, 1976), 36-37. 68 C. V. Ramachandra Andhra Rao, ed., Ekamranathuni Prataparudracaritramu (Hyderabad: PradeshSahitya Akademi, 1984), 59-71.
66 SII 10.753. 67 T. V. 65
64 Tidings of the King, 60-69.
them as emanationsof the gods, so too was the MuslimLordof the Horses.69 One Andhrainscriptionfrom the mid-sixteenthcenturyclaims that all three lords worshippedthe god at Srisailam,Andhra'smost renownedShaiva temple.70 Besides being valid in their possession of royal power, the Muslim kings were seen as an integralcomponentof the politicalorder.No memberof this triadof lords could exist in the absenceof the othertwo, in the same way that an army would be incomplete without the three contingentsof cavalry, elephantcorps, and infantryor thatthe universewould be stagnantwithoutthe triple processes of creation, preservation,and destruction. Far from being to whose very existence was abhorrent the naturalorderof the alien intruders Vilasa grantportrayedthem, Musuniverse, as the early fourteenth-century as lims were now represented an essentialelement in the sociopoliticalworld.
THE GROWTH OF TELUGU ETHNICITY
While Muslims, on the one hand, were increasinglyviewed as intrinsicto the peninsula, the identitiesof non-Muslimgroupswere at the same time becoming more firmly differentiated.These identities had emerged in the preMuslim era with two, largely congruent,focal points: languageand territory. within which Teluguwas spoken. The Andhrawas understoodas the territory associationbetween region and languageis clearlydrawneven in the eleventh century,when the term Andhralanguagefigures in referenceto Telugu.71It was in the eleventh century that the earliest extant Telugu literaturewas produced, although another century elapsed before numerous works were composed.72 As the Telugu linguistic sphere expanded over time, the conception of Andhra'sregionalextentgrew larger.At firstthe territory encompassedwithin the Telugurealm of Andhrawas quite small. In the eleventh century,Andhra was defined as the region extending from southernOrissa down along the coast almost to the moder state's southernborder.But the westernboundary of Andhra was severely truncated,reaching only about halfway across the the moder state.73This restrictednotionof Andhramirrors paucityof Telugu
69 Further expressionof the idea thatMuslimkings were god-like in the same manneras Hindu Caritraumu.This story,repeatedin the later kings is found in an episode from the Prataparudra Rayavacakamuas well, concerns the Delhi sultan's mother,who one night viewed the sleeping The bodies of her son and the captive, KakatiyaPrataparudra. brilliantlight issuing forth from were manifestationsof their forms made her realize that both the Delhi sultanand Prataparudra 66-67; Wagoner,Tidthe gods Vishnu and Shiva (Ramachandra Rao, Prataparudracaritramu, ings of the King, 122-3). 70 SII 16.175 of 1550 C.E.; unfortunately, only the first few lines of the inscriptionsurvive. It was issued by Santa Bhikshavritti Ayyavaru,the head of the Virasaivamonasteryat Srisailam, who also asserts that the three lords were his disciples. 71 Iswara Dutt, InscriptionalGlossary, iii. in 72 N. Venkataramanayya M. Somasekhara and Sarma,"TheKakatiyasof Warangal," Early History of the Deccan, G. Yazdani,ed. (London:Oxford University Press, 1960), 691. 73 K. Sundaram, Studiesin Economicand Social Conditionsof MedievalAndhra(Machilipatnam and Madras:Triveni Publishers, 1968), 1.
inscriptions in the inland area. The expansion of Telugu inscriptions into the interior zone contiguous to the coast occurred during the heyday of the Kakatiya dynasty from the late twelfth to the early fourteenth centuries. The spread in the geographic distribution of Telugu inscriptions can be partly attributed to the increased tempo of agricultural settlement in interior Andhra. But the dynamism of the Kakatiya polity is another contributing factor. As the sphere of Kakatiya influence enlarged, Telugu inscriptions increasingly appear in areas where other epigraphical languages (and other political elites) had previously been prominent.74 By the time Kakatiya Prataparudra was proclaimed the lord of Andhra in early fourteenth-century inscriptions, the conceptual dimensions of the region encompassed about three-quarters of the moder state's territory. When Turkic armies entered peninsular India, the basic contours of the current Telugu linguistic community had thus already been established. The other language communities of the peninsula had similarly emerged in forms that roughly approximate modern distributions. Each of the four regional kingdoms conquered by the Delhi Sultanate in the early fourteenth century corresponded with a separate linguistic realm: the Marathi-speaking area in the case of the Yadavas, the Telugu area of the Kakatiyas, the Kannada area of the Hoysalas, and the Tamil area for the Pandyas. Despite losing their respective political centers under Muslim attack, the nascent linguistic identities of these four communities continued to evolve in subsequent centuries. From the fifteenth century onward, in fact, Andhra inscriptions display a heightened sense of being Telugu. Whereas earlier references occurred in isolation, Telugu identity was now frequently juxtaposed on other regional and ethnic identities. One inscription dated 1485 C.E., for instance, appends a phrase at the end to state that "if an Orissan king, a Turkic king, a king of Karnataka, a Telugu king, or anyone who works for these kings should seize these (donated) cows, they will incur the sin of cow-killing and of Brahminkilling."75 Similar verses are widespread in Andhra inscriptions, the one difference being that the Muslim king is generally threatened with a more relevant curse. For example, an inscription from the early sixteenth century warns, "if any Orissan king or Telugu king should violate this charity, they will incur the sin of killing cows on the banks of the Ganges; if any Turkic kings should violate (this charity), they will incur the sin of eating pork."76 Greater contact
74 Prior to the Kakatiyaperiod, most inscriptionsfrom western Andhra were composed in Kannada (the language of the Karnatakaregion to the west), while inscriptions in southern Andhra were often composed either in Kannadaor Tamil (the language of Tamil Nadu to the of south). The descriptionof the geographicaldistribution Teluguinscriptionsis derivedfrom my own work in progress. It is based on the mappingof roughly six thousandinscriptionsissued within the boundariesof moder AndhraPradeshbetween 1000 and 1650 C.E. 75 Author's translationfrom Telugu, 11. 12-15 of SII 4.659. 76 Author's translationfrom Telugu, 11. 157-162 of El 6.22.
with other areas and polities of the peninsulamay accountfor the increasing tendency to formulateTelugu identity in terms of its others. In twentieth-century India, linguistic allegiance has been a highly charged issue capableof mobilizingmillions. Popularmovementsdemanding political homelandsfor particular languagecommunitieshaveresultedin the redrawing of many administrative boundariesto correspond with linguistic distributions. the modernistview of Benedict Anderson,scholarsof colonial India Echoing have recentlycast doubton the existence of these languagecommunitiesprior to the nineteenthcentury.Both David Washbrook David Lelyveld believe and that boundedlinguisticpopulationsarose out of the Britishcolonial projectto count, classify, and control Indian society.77The nineteenth-century preoccupation with language as the cementing bond of social relations and the belief that races or nations were situatedin set territorial locations were the underlyingimpetus. Indiansgraduallyadoptedtheir colonizer's view of lanit guage and incorporated as one of the bases of a new social identity,according to Lelyveld and Washbrook. To be sure, in the days before mass communication, the perception of sharedcommonalitieswould be far more attenuatedthan today, whether we are speaking of language, caste, or religious or regional affiliation. The tendency to identify one's spoken tongue as belonging to a major language recognized by linguists is certainlya new phenomenon.Moreover,the compilation of dictionaries, productionof textbooks, and developmentof print, radio, and film media since the nineteenthcentury has led to considerable of standardization India's various languages. But even today, bounded linthanan observablereality.As in guistic populationsare moreof an abstraction pre-colonial times, in modem India the dialects spoken at home are numerous, the line of demarcationbetween one language and anothervague, and multi-lingualismwidespread. More relevant than the question of whether territoriallybased language communitiesexisted in pre-colonialIndia is the issue of linguistic allegiance. Certainlythe numberof people who thoughtof themselves as membersof a particularlinguistic culture may have been quite small in the pre-colonial period. The depth of their attachmentto a language may also have been relativelyshallow when comparedto the situationin moder India. As Sudipta Kavirajobserves:
Earliercommunitiestend to be fuzzy in two ways in which no nationcan affordto be. because some collective identitiesare not territorially First, they have fuzzy boundaries
77 David Washbrook, "'To Each a Languageof His Own': Language,Culture,and Society in Colonial India,"in Language, History and Class, PenelopeJ. Corfield, ed. (London:Blackwell, Colonial Knowledge and the Project 1991), 179-203; David Lelyveld, "TheFate of Hindustani: of a National Language," in Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament, Carol A. Universityof PennsylvaniaPress, 1993), Breckenridgeand Petervan der Veer,ed. (Philadelphia: 189-214.
based. . . . Secondly, part of this fuzziness of social mapping would arise because traditionalcommunities, unlike moder ones, are not enumerated.78
Because their boundaries were far more blurred, pre-moder communities were less likely to engage in collective action thanmoder ones. That is, they were not self-conscious to the same extent as in moder nationalisms, with their focused and intense allegiances. The sharplyarticulatedidentitiesof modem nationalismare, thus, far from being the only forms of collective identity.It is untenableto argue that there was no sense of linguistic community in pre-colonial Indiajust because the population involved was a limited or ill-defined one. To be fair, Lelyveld mentions the earlier histories of literary languages, while Washbrookconcedes thatpre-moder grammarians viewed languagesas objects thatcould be classified.79 But their main intention is to refute the notion of language communitiesas inherentnaturalentities by stressingthe impactof nineteenthcentury ideology and technology. In the process, they downplay the importance of pre-moder linguistic identities, at least at the literary level. Although peasants may not have consciously named the language they spoke, poets and scribes were indisputablyawareof theirlinguistic heritage, as were the wealthy patronswho financed their literaryproduction. In pre-colonial India, as in other pre-moder societies, social identities were most stronglydeveloped among the privileged. Smith describesthe elite sense of belonging in medieval Europe as "lateral-aristocratic" ethnicity in contrastto the "vertical-demotic" ethnicityof the modernperiod.80Medieval class, spanninggeographic Europeanethnicity was centeredin the aristocratic boundariesbut staying within the strict confines of the upper social strata. Ethnicityin late medieval South Indiamust have also been an elite phenomenon. Certainly, the social identities displayed in inscriptionspertain to the propertiedclass, the only people who could commission expensive recordsto document their religious endowments. They were no less meaningful for being elite in nature, nonetheless. A case in point is the Kakatiyadynasty's switch in epigraphicusage. While the Kakatiyaswere nominally subordinate to the WesternChalukyadynasty of Karnataka, bulk of their recordswas the inscribedin Kannada,the languageof Karataka. Once the Kakatiyasceased acknowledging Chalukyan overlordship, they immediately stopped issuing The Kakatiyashift to Teluguand Sanskritinscripinscriptionsin Kannada.81
SudiptaKaviraj,"The ImaginaryInstitutionof India,"SubalternStudies VII, ParthaChatterjee and GyanendraPandey,ed. (Delhi: Oxford UniversityPress, 1992), 26. Kavirajdoes not believe that languageformedthe basis for pre-modemcommunitiesin India, however. Whatever the situation might have been in the Bengali-speakingarea, which was Kaviraj'scase study, I believe that the medieval South Indianevidence sufficiently demonstratesthe existence of elite linguistic identities there. 79 Lelyveld, "Fateof Hindustani,"201; Washbrook,"To Each a Language," 180. 80 Smith, Ethnic Origins of Nations, 79-84. 81 Early KakatiyarecordsareHAS 13.6, 7, 12;IAP-Knos. 14, 15, 19, 22, 24; IAP-Wnos. 14,
tions had a certainpolitical significance, of course, but was also a symptomof a solidifying Teluguethnicity. Linguisticaffiliationwas a large, but not the only, componentin the formation of South Indianethnicities. Region of residence and religion were also constituentelements reflected in the categories of Turk, Orissan, or of the found in Karataka region (sometimes"theland of the Kannadalanguage"82) Andhrainscriptions.But, despite the growthof an Andhraidentityderived at least partially from linguistic unity, the land of the Telugu speakers was politically fragmentedafter the fall of the Kakatiya capital, Warangal, in 1323. In the absenceof a regionalkingdomthatwas exclusively and uniquely Telugu, Andhrawarriorsincreasinglyrelied on the memoryof the Kakatiyas to constructa legitimizing past that providedthem with both authorityand a feeling of community.It is this emergenceof a sharedhistorythatmost clearly justifies calling the medieval Telugusense of self an ethnic identity.And for Andhra society of later centuries, the Telugu past led straightback to the Kakatiyas.83 A striking illustrationof the role of the Kakatiyas in Andhra historical Khana.Althoughhis consciousness is providedby the manknown as Chittapa Shitab Khan, Chittapa name is a Sanskritizedform of the Persian name, Khanais called an infidel in Muslim chroniclesand was clearly not a Muslim. Andhraterritoriesthat as He owed his appointment governorof the northern had formedthe core of the Kakatiyapolity to HumayunShah of the Bahmani Sultanate.84In 1504 C.E., Chittapa Khana cast off his allegiance to the monarchin an inscription himself as an independent Bahmanisand portrayed situatedat Warangal,the formerKakatiyacapital. Like ProlayaNayaka and Vema Reddi of the fourteenthcentury,ChittapaKhana'santecedentsare obscure. To secure royal prestige, ChittapaKhanadrew an explicit linkage with the Kakatiyasof two centuriespast in the statement:
The great and prosperousking Chittapa Khana ...
to of ruled a number virtuous kingsbelonging the by formerly [Warangal] Ekashilapuri the for the sakeof worshipping godsandBrahmins.85 family, Kakatiya In effect, ChittapaKhan was engaged in a form of culturalrevival, for he tried to recreatethe greatnessof the Kakatiyas-the Golden Age of Andhra warriors-through his own acts. The purpose of the inscriptionis to com-
capturedthe beautiful city of
22, 25, 29. LaterKakatiyainscriptionsare ARIEno. 126 of 1958-59; HAS 13.3, 56; IAP-Wno. 37; SII 4.1071, 1095, 1107; SII 6.212. 83 For some otherhistoricalmemoriesof the Kakatiyas,see Talbot,"PoliticalIntermediaries," 281-3. 84 Hirananda Sastri, Shitab Khan of Warangal,Hyderabad ArchaeologicalSeries No. 9 (Hyderabad:H. E. H. the Nizam's Government, 1932), 3 and 10. 85 Based on translation Ibid., 23. of
82 SII 6.796.
memoratethe restorationof two divine images. One was Krishna"who was removed from his place by the strengthof the wicked." The other was the goddess who "was the font of prosperity [Lakshmi] for the throne of the Kakatiya kingdom" but "had been removed from her place by the wicked Turks."86 Although it is unlikely that these images actuallydated back to the to Kakatiyaperiod, thatis clearly irrelevant the symbolic meaningof Chittapa Khana's acts, which are intendedto close the gap in historicaltime between the present and the pre-Muslimpast. The inscriptionends with a vision of deity who was the protector ChittapaKhanadaily worshippingthe Warangal of the Kakatiyadynasty. Even in an era of relative political stability, when Muslims were widely depicted as a naturalelement in the South Indiansociopolitical universe, the symbolismof Muslims as evil enemies of the gods andof Brahminscould still be resonant.ChittapaKhana, in declaringhimself and Warangal from the free nominal control of a Muslim polity, utilized the longstandingBrahmanical Yet, the primaryintentof ChittapaKhana'sinscription tropeof the barbarian. is not to denigratethe Muslim per se but to evoke continuitywith a glorious his Telugupast in orderto substantiate own claim to kingship.The pejorative of characterization Muslims in this instance is a by-productof the process of identity formation. Muslims are what Telugu warriorsare not, but the main emphasis is on what a true Telugu warrioris-a spiritualdescendant, so to speak, of the Kakatiyadynasty. The shifting use of the title Lordof Horses for both a NorthIndianMuslim polity and for one of the smaller Muslim polities of the peninsula indicates that non-Muslimsdid have some sense of Muslims as a distinct and unified group, regardlessof their exact political affiliation. From a militaryperspective, of course, the variousMuslim polities could indeed have been perceived as sharinga similartechnology and emphasison cavalry,justifying grouping them togetherin one largercategory.Andhrainscriptionsalso use the various ethnic labels of Turk,Persian, and Arab interchangeably referenceto any in of Muslims. The effacement of ethnic differences is further given group evidence that Muslims were seen as composing one common category.Conversely, the term Hindu continued to occasionally appear in inscriptionsin opposition to Turk.87But in the peninsularIndia of circa 1500 C.E., more relevantthan any sharedHinduidentitywere the emergingidentitiesbased on common languageand region of origin. And in the evolutionof these incipient of ethnicities, the constructionand articulation a commonpastplayed a significant part. Excluding the Muslim other was one way throughwhich Telugu ethnicitywas consolidated,but the evoking of a sharedhistorycenteredon the Kakatiyaswas an equally importantmeans.
SII 26.622; P. V. Parabrahma Sastry,Select Epigraphsof AndhraPradesh, AndhraPradesh Governmentof AndhraPradesh, n.d.), 76-77. Archaeological Series No. 31 (Hyderabad:
86 Based on translationof Ibid., 24. P. V. Parabrahma.
The balanceof power between Hinduand Muslim polities in South India was abruptlyshatteredin 1565 when the peninsularsultanateslaunched a combined attackagainstVijayanagara, leading to its defeat and the sacking of the in Karnataka.The Vijayanagara capital city kings of the fourth or Aravidu retrenched in southern Andhra but saw the territory under their dynasty control diminish rapidly over the next ninety years. The central portion of coastal Andhra fell to one Muslim polity-the Qutb Shahs of Golkonda/Hyderabad-in the 1580s. Successful campaigns in southernAndhra were conducted in the 1620s by anotherMuslim polity, that of the Adil Shah of Bijapur, and again in the 1640s by the Qutb Shahi armies. The last Vijayanagaraking, SrirangaIII, eventuallyhad to flee the region entirely; and by 1652 C.E. all of Andhrawas underthe hegemony of Muslim polities. After 1565, therefore, we witness a second rapid expansion of frontiers, parallelingin enormitythe events of the early fourteenth century.For a second time, existing political networks were shattered, and several new Telugu warriorlineages came to prominencein Andhrathat were nominally subordinate to the tatteredremnantsof the Vijayanagara imperium. Somewhat surprisingly, Andhra inscriptionsof this period are silent on the catastrophic events of 1565. Nor do they rail against the demonic Muslim enemy, unlike what we find in the fourteenthcentury.88 One reason for the absence of antiMuslim rhetoricmay simply be the small quantityof inscriptionsissued in Andhraafter 1565.89This paucityof inscriptionsis itself a consequenceof the political instability that plagued Andhra in the decades following the Vijayanagaradefeat. With anarchisticconditions prevailing, temple patronage declined abruptly,and thereforefew donative inscriptionswere issued. Worship may have been suspendedat many Hindutemplesdue to the loss of lands and valuables that supportedregulartemple services. At severallargertemple complexes with sufficientprestigeand resourcesto survive in the long run, there are reports of disturbancesin the course of continuing Muslim expansion in Andhraafter 1565. From these reportsand other evidence, it appearsthat temple desecrationwas on the rise duringthis third phase of the Hindu-Muslim encounterin Andhra. Unfortunately,it is very difficult to gauge the extent of damagewroughton Hindutemples without systematic and unbiased study of the subject, a project that has not yet
88 However, other types of sources do engage in an anti-Muslimpolemic. Notable among these are the Rayavacakamu (Wagoner,Tidingsof the King) and the village, family, and temple histories (kaifiyat)collected by Colin Mackenziearound1800, many of which mention anarchy and destructionin the decades after the battle of 1565 (NilakantaSastri and Venkataramanayya, FurtherSources, 2:245-50). 89 In contrastto the 862 recordsoriginatingin the eight decades between 1490 and 1570 C.E., the eighty-yearspan from 1570 to 1650 C.E. yields only 318 inscriptions-a mere third of the earliertotal.
been conducted.90My general impression, based upon inscriptionsand the secondaryliterature,is that some Hindu sites in Andhrawere demolished in the fourteenthcentury in the initial Turkicconquest and shortly thereafter. Most notable among these are the temples in the Kakatiyacapital, Waranor gal.91However, thereare few verifiablecases of Andhratemple destruction desecrationin the following period, when the balanceof power was relatively underwent stable (Wagoner's phase two from 1420 to 1565 C.E.). Maharashtra a similarexperience-temple destructionoccurredthereprimarilyin the fourteenth century.92 The long lull in attackson Hindu temples seems to have ended in the late sixteenth century.93The best-documentedincident pertains to the popular Ahobilam temple (Kumool district). An inscriptiondating from 1584 C.E. tells us that Ibrahimof the Qutb Shahi dynastycapturedthe Ahobilamtemple with the help of the Hindu Hande chiefs in 1579 and held it for five or six years.94 The record commemorates the recapturingof the site by a Vijayanagarasubordinatewho is said to have restored the temple to its past glory. The traditionalaccountof Ahobilam additionallystates that those jewels and silver or gold vessels belonging to the temple that survived a raid in 1565 were looted in the 1579 attack.95Local folklore reportsthat the main Ahobilam image was broughtbefore IbrahimQutb Shah, who vomited blood and died as a result.96 Evidence also exists for the plunderingof anothermajor Andhra temple site, Srikurman district). An inscriptionissued by a Muslim (Visakhapatnam generalof the QutbShahs in 1599 C.E. claims thathe damagedthe temple and
90 At present, lists of sites where Hindu temples were destroyed and mosques or tombs (dargah) built in their place are being circulatedby nationalistscholars. The data upon which these lists are based are not always provided, making the evidence suspect. Muslim chronicles and Perso-Arabicinscriptions are sometimes utilized, but neither of these types of sources is totally reliable. Sita Ram Goel is one scholar compiling such lists, see his "Let the Mute Witnesses Speak," in Hindu Temples: WhatHappened to Them, A PreliminarySurvey, Arun Shourie et al., ed. (New Delhi: Voice of India, 1990), 88-181; and Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, Pt. 2 The Islamic Evidence (New Delhi: Voice of India, 1991). Thanks are due to RichardM. Eaton for acquaintingme with these works. 91 George Michell, "City as Cosmogram:The CircularPlan of Warangal," SouthAsian Studies, 8 (1992), 12. 92 Sherwani, "Bahmanis,"208. 93 Although I believe Goel's lists are greatlyinflated, this statementwould be trueeven by his reckoning. In the approximately 140 sites of temple desecration that he records for Andhra Pradesh("Letthe Mute Witnesses Speak,"88-95), the dates for the alleged incidentsare given in sixty instances. Five date from the fourteenthcentury(phase one), six come from phase two, and nineteen date from 1565 to 1650 C.E. (phase three). The remainingthirtyor so cases stem from the century after 1650, with a notablebunchingof incidentsin the late 1600s, when the Mughal empire was absorbingthe former Qutb Shahi kingdom of Golkonda. 94 SII 16.296. 95 The Ahobilam Kaifiyat is summarizedin NilakantaSastri and Venkataramanayya, Further Sources of VijayanagaraHistory, 3:246. 96 P. Sitapati, Sri Ahobilia Narasimha Swamy Temple(Hyderabad:Governmentof Andhra Pradesh, 1982), 15.
constructeda mosque there.97The temple can not have suffered substantial destruction,however, as this inscriptionremainson its walls alongside many others. Furthermore,a mere five years later, another subordinateof the Qutb Shahs-this time a Hindu chief-recorded his gift of a village to the temple.98Srisailam, a famous temple in the Nallamallaihills, seems to have been affectedseveraldecades later,when the territory it surrounding fell under Muslim control. Around1625 C.E., the Hinduchief who ruledthis areaof Andhra'sinteriorwas defeatedby Adil Shahi forces from Bijapurin Karnataka. Srisailam'straditional accounttells us thatthis led to the appropriation Brahof min and monastic lands, forcing many people to leave the area and resulting in curtailment ritualservices.99At Ahobilam,also affectedby this particular of advance of Muslim forces, temple valuables were again taken away.100 Two salient points arise out of the reports of temple desecration at Ahobilam, Srikurman,and Srisailam. The first is that all the incidents took place in contested territory.Ahobilam was plunderedonce when the Qutb Shahi forces were on a campaign against Vijayanagaraand a second time when Adil Shahi armies were moving further into southern Andhra. The incidentoccurredduringa QutbShahiexpeditioninto northeastern Srikurman Andhra.At no time do we get reportsof temples well within Muslim spheres of influence being looted or damaged,only of those situatedalong the lines of conflict. Templedesecrationin Andhrais thus a phenomenonof the moving frontier, an activity occurring primarilyin the highly charged moments of armedencounter.RichardM. Eatonbelieves thattemple destructionby Turks Indiawas motivatedby political, far more and otherMuslimrulersthroughout than religious, considerations.The temples destroyedlay either in kingdoms in the process of being conqueredor within the realms of rebels. Because a royal temple symbolizedthe king's power in Hindupoliticalthought,destroyof ing it signified that king's utterhumiliation.The characterization Muslims as rabidiconoclastsdrivento destroyidols becauseof religious ideology is far from the truth, in Eaton's opinion.101The situationin medieval Andhraappears to supportEaton's thesis. A second implicationof the Andhraevidence is that violence to temples of often only involved the appropriation movable propertyrather than the
97 SII 5.1312. 98 SII 10.755 and SII 5.1260. The same chief additionallygranteda village to the famous to Andhra.This leads K. Sundaram surmisethat the temple at Simhacalam,also in northeastern Simhacalamtemple had been plunderedat the same time as Srikurman (The SimhacalamTemple [Simhacalam,A.P.: SimhacalamDevasthanam, 1969], 33 and 104). 99 P. Sitapati,SrisailamTemple of Government AndhraPradesh, Kaifiyat,2 vols. (Hyderabad: 1981), 13. FurtherSources, '00 Sitapati, Ahobila Temple, 16; NilakantaSastri and Venkataramanayya, 3:246. 101"TempleDesecrationand the Image of the Holy Warrior Indo-MuslimHistoriography" in (Paperpresentedat the annualmeetingof the Associationfor Asian Studies, Boston, April 1994).
actual demolishing of idols and buildings. The Andhraincidents described above dating from the late sixteenth and early seventeenthcenturies are instances of temple desecrationand not actual destruction,unlike the situation during the fourteenthcentury.However, the symbolic value of temple desecrationwas far greaterthanthe materialloss experiencedandwas exploitedby of both Hindus and Muslims. At Ahobilam, for example, the recapturing the site in 1584 is representedas a majorobjective of Vijayanagara strategy,and its successful conclusionis celebratedthroughthe conferralof temple honors. The Srikurmancase, on the other hand, clearly illustratesthe gap between reality and rhetoric in Muslim sources. It is ironic, indeed, that a Muslim warriorwould have used a slab on which numerousendowments were inscribed to record his own attack, of which no visible evidence remains.102 This last example should warnus to be more cautiousabouttakingMuslim historical claims at face value. The rhetoricof religious war in Indo-Turkish of chroniclesfrequentlyserved to eitherinflate the importance minormilitary And not until the campaignsor to maskthe raw political ambitionof rulers.103 sixteenthand seventeenthcenturiesdoes the image of the holy warrior(ghazi) actually figure in Indo-Muslimwriting, although this status was then attributedretroactivelyto numerousindividualsof earliercenturies.104 Tragically, literthe medieval Muslim rhetoricof iconoclasm is today being interpreted Hindunationalistsand used as a weapon againstIndianMuslims. Yet, ally by just as anti-Muslimpolemic in Hindusources like the Vilasa grantof Prolaya Nayakahad self-servingmotives, so too shouldthe boasts of Muslim warriors as at the edge of the Islamic frontierbe regarded effortsto enhancelegitimacy. In any case, it is evident that much more researchneeds to be carried out before we can make any definitive statementsaboutthe extentto which Hindu temples were damagedor demolished by Muslim armies in medieval India.
encountershould In this essay, I have arguedthatthe medievalHindu-Muslim be viewed as a process occurringin a frontierzone. The intensityof contact over time along the SouthIndianfrontier,from the devasvarieddramatically tation of the first armedconflict througha period of equilibriumand mutual borrowingto a renewedera of advancingmilitarybordersand culturalhostilithe ty. Only throughunderstanding changingcontextsof Hindu-Musliminterof action can we account for the diversity in Hindurepresentations Muslims. did of Muslims as demon-like barbarians occur in medieval Andhra Images but primarilyin the aftermathof severe military strife. Reports of temple desecrationlikewise surfacemainly along the edges of an advancingfrontier.
The other inscriptionson this slab are publishedas SII 5.1289-1311. Ernst, Eternal Garden, 22-29 and 38-59. 104 RichardM. Eaton, "IslamicIconoclasmin India-Some Case Studies"(Paperpresentedat Annual Conferenceon South Asia, Madison, WI, November 1994).
When times were more peaceful and the atmospheremore accepting, a conceptual scheme that incorporatedMuslim polities circulated widely in Anco-existed at any given dhra. But bothdenigratingand tolerantrepresentations phase-medieval Andhraconceptions of the Muslim were never monolithic or uniform. While Muslims were often cast as the Otherin medieval Hindu discourse, Andhrainscriptionsnever placed Islam in the foregroundas the basis of the Muslim's alien character.The Muslim warriorsof Turkicorigin who invaded and settled in peninsularIndia were certainly a separateethnic group, comprising their own social unit and possessing their own culture. But their Othernessincludedmanydistinctfeaturesbeyondsimply religion-language, costume, marriagecustoms and fighting styles, to name but a few. This is not of to say that the non-Musliminhabitants Indiawere unawareof the particulars of Islamic beliefs andpractice.Popularworksby devotionalpoet-saintsof the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries explicitly contrastnumerousaspects of Hinduismand Islam, often in the setting of a religious debate.105But for the political elites who financed the compositionof inscriptions,religious differences were of no greatimport. Farmore significantwere the militaryskills of the Turksand the administrative heritageof the Islamic civilization that they introducedinto the peninsula. Because the initial Andhraencounterwith Islamic peoples took place in a context of confrontation,we witness a sharpdelineationbetween Muslim and non-Muslimin discourse. In my interpretation, bothsides used the languageof us-versus-themto strengthenemergent identities in a fluid and constantly changing sociopolitical milieu. Neither the parvenuAndhrawarriorsof the fourteenthcentury nor the Turkicintrudersof the Delhi Sultanate, relative newcomersto Islam, had much statureas authority figures. Whatbetterway to shoreup shakyclaims to legitimacythanto exploit the ancientsymbols of their respective religious traditions?New Andhra leaders could draw on earlier Brahminimages of the struggle against demons and the godless, while the CentralAsian Turkscould presenttheir activities within the paradigmof the Islamicjihad. But the rhetoricof the destroyerof templesin the case of Muslim elites and of the protectorof temples and Brahminsin the case of Hinduelites can be misleadingin suggestingthatthe primarymotivationsfor conflict were religious in nature. Instead, I believe that these representationsshould be understoodas strategiesaimed at consolidatingcommunityallegiance. While the presence of a markedly different Turkic people undoubtedly facilitated the formationof a Hindu or non-Muslim identity, the growth of
105 This is true of the North Indian poet-saints, Kabir and Guru Nanak (Lorenzen, "Vicissitudes of Bhakti," 12) as well as Eknath from Maharashtra (Eleanor Zelliott, "A Medieval Encounterbetween Hindu and Muslim: Eknath'sDrama-PoemHindu-Turk Samvad,"in Images of Man: Religion and Historical Process in South Asia, Fred Clothey, ed. [Madras:New Era Publications, 1982]).
regional identities in medieval South India was more striking. Though restrictedto the elite segment of the population,the medieval definitionof self in terms of region was a precursorof regional loyalties in the twentieth century. Because the core elements of medieval regional identity included collective memoriesof the past, as well as a commonlanguageand homeland, it can be classified as an early form of ethnicity.For Andhrawarriorsduring the late middle ages, unity was fostered through constructionof a shared history in which the Kakatiyadynastyplayed a seminal role. By focusing too exclusively on religion as a source of difference,scholarshave overlookedthe significance of other attributesdifferentiatingthe medieval communities of India. And by failing to contextualizethe developmentof Hindu and Muslim identitieswithin the historicalprocesses of migrationand a moving frontier,a static and simplisticview of identityformationin SouthAsia has prevailedfor too long. The ethnic identities of elite groups in pre-modem India may differ from modem nationalismsin their restrictedsocial range and rallying power. But too much has been made of the distinctionbetween traditionaland modem societies in this, as in many other, respects. Whether we are speaking of medieval India or modem India, the sense of communityevolved througha twofold process-the distancingof the group from others whose alienness is highlighted, on the one hand, and the elaborationof a set of common social attributes,on the other. In the developmentof an ethnicity,earliermyths and to illusion of contiimages were often appropriated provide an all-important themselves as extendingfar back in with ancienttimes. By representing nuity time, communities could claim to be naturalentities, inherentto the social world. Although the antiquityof many ethnic groups is suspect, in terms of the continuityof actual membership,the symbols that representthe community's cohesion may indeed possess prior histories. In both pre-modem and modem societies, in other words, the imaginingof the past was an on-going creative process.
In citing inscriptions,the following abbreviations have been used: ARIE EI HAS 13 Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy (New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India). EpigraphiaIndica (New Delhi: ArchaeologicalSurvey of India). P. Sreenivasachar,ed., A Corpus of Inscriptions in the TelinganaDistricts of H.E.H. TheNizam'sDominions, Pt. II, Hyderabad ArchaeologicalSeries No. 13 (Hyderabad:H.E.H. The Nizam's Government, 1940). P. V. Parabrahma Sastry,ed., Inscriptionsof AndhraPradesh: KarimnagarDisGovernmentof trict, AndhraPradeshGovt. EpigraphySeries No. 8 (Hyderabad: AndhraPradesh, n.d.).
CYNTHIA TALBOT N. Venkataramanayya, Inscriptionsof AndhraPradesh: WarangalDistrict, ed., Governmentof AnAndhraPradeshGovt. EpigraphySeries No. 6 (Hyderabad: dhra Pradesh, 1974). and Alan Butterworth V. VenugopalChetty,ed., A Collection of the Inscriptions on Copper-Platesand Stones in the Nellore District, 3 vols. (1905; rpt., New Delhi: Asian EducationalServices, 1990). South Indian Inscriptions, 26 vols. (Madrasor New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India).