India in the Vernacular Millennium: Literary Culture and Polity, 1000-1500 Author(s): Sheldon Pollock Source: Daedalus

, Vol. 127, No. 3, Early Modernities (Summer, 1998), pp. 41-74 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20027507 Accessed: 05/08/2009 04:19
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Sheldon Pollock

India in the Vernacular Millennium: Literary Culture and Polity, 1000-1500

VERNACULARIZATION

IN THEORY

IN

THE EARLY CENTURIES OF THE SECOND MILLENNIUM, wide of Eurasia, and most India and Europe, dramatically nessed a transformation and in cultural practice, order with political I call this transformation universalistic millennium took way on far-reaching

areas wit

formation,

social-identity and enduring a process and formations, and

consequences. of change the by which of the preceding practices by vernacularization, over time, are now and more powerful

vernacularization,

orders, were supplemented

gradually replaced by localized forms. The local worlds
which giving under

created

has been quences of these local worlds. A key culture. site It for is here

universalizing us more to make

ever definition sharper the pressure of another one of whose conse process, aware of the very historicity vernacularization is literary intentional represen In power. to literacy to "lit models

clearly perceive and encounter the most change language significant tations of a society's and a polity's self-understanding are first admitted vernacularization local languages I sometimes call literization), then accommodated (what erature" as defined and by thereby (literarization), ally they come tion and, preexisting unified cosmopolitan and

understanding that we most

eventu homogenized; to be deployed in new projects of territorializa in some cases, ethnicization. vernacular By this process

Sheldon The

Pollock

is George of Chicago.

V. Bobrinskoy

Professor

of Sanskrit

and

Indie

Studies

at

University

41

42
literary translocal

Sheldon Pollock
cultures

the and superseded encompassed gradually that and geocultural aesthetic spaces forms, codes, not in literary culture These had earlier been prevalent. changes in social but appear with transformations identity only correlate a shift in the perceived to converge of at times with scope political ously been This power. dominant For a previ vernacularization with concurrently to have to transregional rule seems aspiration if not bounded orders of power. limited by more to the in some parts of the world crucially states; came other elsewhere, into being. forms of polity, as

supplanted contributed

formation

of national

into is to study not the emergence but and cultures, communities and natural of primeval history For it of their naturalization. the historical rather inauguration was during that cultures millennium the course of the vernacular or were and discursively and communities invented, ideationally a more voice. This natural at least provided self-conscious with and differen of reduction process place by a double into unified turned dialect was unmarked standard, and undiffer into homogenized culture, practice heterogeneous entiated space into conceptually place, vernacularization organized was new regional worlds.1 the indig Inside these worlds created Of and artificial. enous the exogenous and natural; outside, in a did not happen this transformation course, everywhere ization took As tiation: of the cultural pro processes are the same, and under and difference of sameness duction of the content about have been distinctive what may standing in new worlds, such as those in the various vernacularization similar Not all historical southern Asia before European colonization that form the sub if elusive is a precious prize. ject of this essay, differ the potential makes what At the most level, general to grasp is an epistemological deter ence of the non-West hard we use to know it. that in the very categories minism embedded Twenty ing to export study years ago resist what of students of Asian saw as models cultures. denouncing analysis Yet they Euro-American Even while history intellectual and the that were already seek in the imperialism in the presuppositions con itself was the critique of domination epistemic a general "discerns manner.

understood, yet poorly To study vernacularization

of non-Western it demanded

tradictory. the West

India in the Vernacular Millennium
order . . . for India and to elsewhere," rejected "an endless series and as of futile the

43
idio

(which graphic and culture-specific any categorization ent. While the dated

leads

'patterns'"), that renders phrase

noncomparable as pernicious regarded the non-West differ radically "intellectual sound may imperialism" it articulates critique are has those not with vanished, we which and are

the problem today, of the the contradictions

still living.2
Beyond of inquiry form it) and ties this general epistemological is predetermined by the the unhappy a ghettoizing choice trap (where the outcome that difficul in uni very between problematics a homogenizing lie two more

versalism stituted among

and

for non-Western

studies.

a certain to comprise appear to imagine alternative cultural necessity. teleological come to be, as it it has of this process when meanings political into national narratives. locked Vernacular has, everywhere It is hard ization, nation. history of the South The it seems, must of the signal the protohistory universally we can even get to that is whether second difficulty to query at least the estimation the impact?or it, given of brilliant colonialism

by vernacularization them the nation-form,

particularism con the conceptual First, objects in early modern foremost Europe, now

and cultural to be it appear that produced the present while making spheres the past. The development of underdevelopment; the congela tion of religious identities and their political mobilization ("com the rigidification, and for some even the invention, munalism"); of a centralized of caste; the establishment of the nation, and of "India" itself?these new and Western of the claim but have traditional.3 knowledge been presented This guise, formation under for state; the production are all colonial and

a generation As colonialism. impact?of to demonstrate, Asian historians has sought in the economic, effected social, changes political,

the guise of the precolonial is the artifice its part, of the and in view called Orientalism, it would that appear Orientalism the is

scholarship currently often made?that, true.

available

epistemically,

untranscendable?is

The task of thinking through the history and meaning
non-European to overcome. stacles vernacular We millennium, must attempt therefore, to reconceptualize has

of the

large ob the key

44
terms

Sheldon Pollock
of the problematic, culture and at once our from within power, the preconcepts of nation and even per thinking, such to science, reduce reduction as the one of often

materials, resisting and orientalized colonialized, It is typical of social science. haps of normal common sense of modernity and capitalism, empirical alized, these terms embodied (culture) in the use to the other of the

(power)?a of legitimation of power.4 concept to assume is no reason is applicable There that legitimation ana the dominant all human yet it remains throughout history, in studies in explaining the work of culture of early South lytic and be Southeast Asia. A related antifunctionalist economistic complaint could of against brought explanations in It is not to deny the role of the material social change. world and political the formation of collective identities but orders, to capture what may be different about that role under rather transhistorical

to suggest in earlier the grounds for that epochs capitalism, even radical change, might not be epiphenomenal social change, to the economic in some more but rather located elsewhere, autonomous such as a new aesthetic for example, imperative, desire as legitimation and prejudgments of vernacularization and analysis of collective identities and political the formation orders with can hope to perceive I do not see how we it is related, which at of culture and power what may be different about the relation other times and instruments, to explain order theorization places. such as Yet it is easier invented of to reject the conceptual in modernity, in new them with convincing precoloniality. how culture on relates to style. we such Unless suspend in our historical economism for vernacular

legitimation it than to replace from the stuff developed

to understand It is in part the challenge that accounts for my concentration power there is an additional consideration. though are of a polity and the social coherence

literary language, If identity formation it is in part mentalit?s,

reasonable

that language
in both and

(the foundation
identity.

of mentalit?)
and the

should
theoreti

figure large of polity cal analysis a "primordial" tally has

the real-world

phenomenon (and I think erroneously) recently should not be taken to refer to priority

production is thus fundamen Language but not in the sense the term acquired. in time?to Primordialism attachments

India in the Vernacular Millennium
to be perennial, thought instrumentalization?but and of thus may be Used contrasted in this ever to present, in priority and not, and social as only awaiting

45

with sense

second-order

consciousness, civic sentiments

belonging. of antonym the term

"instrumental," is an important not conjure forms of con should It certainly up transhistorical a "first-order to become it For something sciousness: given," to be culturally such primordial produced. phenomena that effectively of national This as is now race obvious and to respect for regionalism, "primor with

as an typically, or "recent," constructed," "socially to our conceptual addition apparatus.

has

example, but it also applies to language itself (orwhat Clifford
in the essay Geertz, into discussions dial" exploring the vernacular main For introduced the term called sentiment, "linguism").5 of dimensions and sociopolitical in find themselves of South Asia in the do possess in their that are unique interac multicultural and We

the meanings students epoch, enviable textual

an uncharacteristically of literary culture combination tion. These literary

position. materials

of antiquity, show materials something

texts,

to the production of respect came in the into being unprecedented

continuity, that with

period between roughly 1000 and 1500. At different places and at different times (and perhaps for different reasons, though it is
this make knew that did needs texts not such investigation) in languages travel?as the world of in southern Asia people that did not travel?and the language far as Sanskrit, literary production for to began that they that had

monopolized thousand

the preceding

years. as of cultural this characterization processes, Admittedly, or transregional, as less to global or regional in contrast local to be qualified. to well-traveled, The in contrast needs traveled are obviously and in any case are meaningful relative, categories

in local discourse. But such qualification should only as construed not be allowed to obscure what is after all a real and important and vernacular cul between difference literary cosmopolitan tures. Lanka such texts literary from Afghanistan a literary culture meant Sanskrit and a regional alternative world was therefore circulated from Central and Asia to Sri in To to Annam, participating to it and to effect participating in a vast ecumene. to elect a break, to remain which

produce a limited

within

the agents

46

Sheldon Pollock
understood to be that a break, vernacular in cultural literature communica creates be

themselves tion The comes or over and

self-understanding. alternative world an alternative only cultural

dominant

given formation

the presence of a "superposed" sort: Greek of a transregional

over French, over Vietnamese, Latin San Chinese Latin, a world?a it becomes skrit over Javanese. And self-adequate to the prevailing culture scale of norms?only literary according

in everything the signs of superposition from by appropriating to rhetoric, lexicon and metric and aesthetic. Choices genre, or underlie the production of literary vernacular texts, whether that necessarily comprises cultural formation. identity Writing capture?of a language a language entails choosing (or, often, creating by the a and thereby oneself with of texts), very production affiliating ever hard to particular self-evident tion most sociotextual into being, vision matter, of the world. choosing While a language choice itself is no language for literary text produc an existing with affiliating a potential community But it has, and cosmopolitan, social phenomenon in their interplay they constitute an intricate an element?how

importantly community, and thus has

significations. since the primary site of defining political significations, equally, was at its commencement vernacular the everywhere production court. site of political the royal power, namely, for making the choice of language literature, Understanding in a world of choices the radical and especially then, reordering in vernacularization, about may help us understand something or nature of collective identities and political and the history ders. ing, It is from and the act of reading-performing, hearing, reproduc texts that a significant of portion literary circulating and perhaps derives.6 And solidarity self-understanding

implies or summoning social defining

group a notable feature of the texts in the case when this is especially to is the very fact of their using vernacular language question its adequacy for such literature and thereby demonstrating make use. Whatever in the vernacular else it may be, literature millen nium
minants.

is a social the

act, with

specific of

political

and

geocultural

deter

While seems

importance I often obvious,

thus vernacularization, I have got wonder whether

conceived, something

India in the Vernacular Millennium
when quite wrong matter has received. I observe Few how attention systematic of its history exist as a supraregional, macrohistorical accounts theorizations significations. that help Those us that little

47
the for

detailed

let alone any part of the world, even fewer and phenomenon, derstand available cultural its offer change social neat as and political

to un are

explanatory packages a result of material

identifying and social

vernacular transforma

or so-called for example, tions, industrialization, print-capital are hardly in their own domain ism. They criticism above let in this alone for the South Asian materials adequate presented

essay, but if they do not work
substitute?that in cultural-political

it is difficult to figure out what

to

means what vernacularization is, to understand and why the vernacular terms, epoch began

when it did. Difficulties

only

increase if we

take the final step, toward
Indian vernacularization and pol in many of community

comparative cultural-political to changing and its relation similar ity seem structurally from other places. Examples tenth

analysis.

conceptions to developments eastern

Eurasia

in the fourteenth, Siam century, In Vietnam, for instance, it is then that a demotic teenth. script an adaptation is developed of Chinese characters for (ch? n?m, for of which Vietnam sounds), by means the first time to present itself in a of this cultural-political significance

occurring include Java in the in the fif and Vietnam

ese

the writing of Vietnamese was literature able form. time, The

non-Chinese move at the until world writing, much

not to full vernacularization though leading must in a have been great, for it took place later, as one scholar the standardization of where, put it, a meta was like the standardization of wagon axles, at a watershed it occurred And government. good a in intellectual-political with when, history along the localization of Chinese cultural indigenization, is to be found in a number of domains.7

for phor moment nostalgic materials Better

are the examples of course, of vernacularization known, In the supersession ecumene from western Eurasia. of the Latin we may note par in late-medieval by script vernaculars Europe allels Indian developments, in point and not only of that are astonishing. And the role of vernacularization chronology, in the making in the political of early European and modernity with the

48
social

SheldonPollock

in precisely I am formulating the way it spheres?though seems understudied even for Europe?may this question suggest of an analytical it is just the model for India. Yet something of this model from Western among If the for now. suspend a particular kind of cor suggests modernity collective and the political language, identity, be only a European univer for whose particular that to as yet little warrant. I want

elements view relation

this may order, we have salization

VERNACULARIZATION From around the

IN PRACTICE the for hitherto the first

sacral largely time as a vehicle South and

of the common era, beginning came to be used of Sanskrit language for

much

all story of how it to say that by the middle Suffice in southern clear signs everywhere their

expression literary and political throughout Asia. of Southeast The quite extraordinary this came about need not be restated here.8 of Asia the millennium, by which there literati are and

a common could culture and in patrons recognize courtly a kind of cosmopolitan we can perceive which the presence of A strong rule obtains this cosmopolis community. throughout the functions of Sanskrit and vernacular regulating languages: Sanskrit political alone was the royal genealogies to inscriptions. Ver the prologue (prasasti) came to literization most of which nacular first through languages, were of Sanskrit, this was the mediation their sole used?but texts, the that often formed the boundaries of documents the production (specifying For the greater part of the history of a land grant, for example). or expres literature" of this cosmopolitan "literized formation, to writing term texts is k?vya) sive committed (the Sanskrit use?for could cording be made to in the transethnic, only its own self-understanding) transregional, transhistorical and (ac language Given was been that employed latter being for the production of literary and and eulogies

of Sanskrit and never in a local code.9 This is something both the
of Sanskrit culture corroborate. and practice theory ecumene the cosmopolitan of the Sanskrit culture ingly mentary, restricted to the its relation expressive to power and seems divorced to have increas the docu far more

from

India in the Vernacular Millennium
aesthetic an The of shows than instrumental, state. of a "poetry of power," perhaps,

49
in

aesthetic history some five

in southern culture Asia for a period literary a little before centuries however, 1000, beginning a decisive turn away from Sanskrit, everywhere whereby

it is gradually
supplanted cation. The complex, common: nances)

supplemented
purposes

by local language and eventually
of literary at work to have communi and political here are disparate and

for most cultural but most

processes cases seem literariness

literary we might call sentation, territorialization; something literary a central concern and vernacular becomes literary production across a variety to illustrate Iwant these features royal courts. cultures, literary demonstrate the vernacular in however and reality transformation.

Superposed is appropriated communication

in three components its philological (and appurte and localized; the geocultural sphere of becomes itself a matter of literary repre to of

a manner, to in order summary character of this cultural-political

a language in the present-day found South Indian Kannada, a paradigmatic state of Karnataka, is in many case.10 For ways a thousand the eighth about years until century, ruling lineages in Sanskrit. of the region their political will generally expressed

Only then does Kannada, first literized in the fifth century, begin to be used for the documentary portion of inscriptions; by
most century, dynastic are in the vernacular. texts, eulogistic some texts are produced, first literary the thirteenth language The where). concerned Kannada the is first new inscribed what literature all with inscriptions, In the ninth four hundred found including century its after

(a timelag

above

as opposed

is profoundly to produce it means literature to Sanskrit, the identity of and with

years almost every it is self-conscious; in the

world
King

for which
of Poets"

this literature is produced.
(Kavir?jam?rgam), at the R?strak?ta from a treatise court

"The Way
on around

of the

vernacular

poetics composed this clearly. Adapted "The Mirror constitute discourse

of Poetry" as Kannada in Kannada

shows 850, a seventh-century Sanskrit treatise, "The Way" aims first to (K?vy?darsa), an of object epistemological worthy

analysis by providing

it with
itself,

theory, and, by conducting
this a language of

the

to make

science

50
even seeks

Sheldon Pollock
while it as a language of literature. It also establishing to discipline the language with usage, investing thereby

both the stability and the dignity
language interest the social in India is placing on the Sanskrit culture

that characterize
model. Yet in the world, and in that

all literary
crucial constituting culture by

another

plotting Between

literary above all as participants group out its specific sphere: geocultural

rivers is that region (n?du) of the Kaveri and Godavari a well-known an illustrious Kannada, people-area (janapada), domain within the circle of the earth. Within this, outstanding the renowned there is a smaller region between Kisuvolal, great the very essence and Omkunda, where city of Kopana, Puligere, are able both to is found. The people of that region of Kannada is seemly and to reflect in the of what speak in the awareness awareness of what has been spoken. By nature they are clever and even without in the usages of deliberate study they are proficient
literature.11

The

entire

introduces

of literary apparatus was thus understood the

and only there; place, contrast to in stark Sanskrit?literally or even (resonance and

that the text hereby knowledge to have application in a specific and only them. And for a specific people, rootless and placeless cosmopolitan or "the grammatically analyzable" an archaic "the sacramental"? period)

"the refined" from have

here become (Kannada, language fully homonymie place or Karn?ta[ka] in most in Sanskritized of the form), as they will other vernacular worlds. A second key text in the production of Pampa lar is the Vikram?rjunavijaya of the Kannada (ca. 950), vernacu an adaptation

of the Sanskrit epic, the Mah?bh?rata.
superposed elaboration Andronicus's B.c. The cal epic and tradition ennoblement

The

localization

of a

Odyssey Sanskrit Mah?bh?rata,

is, to be sure, a common step in the witness Livius of a regional code; in 240 Latin literature that inaugurates for its part, has inestimable

importance for the production of influential forms of both politi
institution of a transregional and an imaginary imagination and yet some conceptual world before colonialism?not "India," to Assam to the southern from Nepal penin object extending sula, and thence to Sind, Qandahar, Kashmir.12 Throughout this

India in the Vernacular Millennium
the world's perhaps the subcontinent power, text, every both important the culture greatest as a whole tale of and

51

it so ruthlessly Pampa adjusts

juncture that the epic embodies and the political power It is this geographical dissects. that imagination to his primary narrative project by transforming

of political the nature at as a limit is projected to be the crucial frame of reference for

the capital city of the epic prototype

into the capital of his

the grand circumambulations II, and making patron King Arikesari of the quarters of the subcontinent, around which the action of is organized, into a circuit of the central Deccan. the Sanskrit epic The political the Kannada power and cultural world, functions. vernacular world space of the epic it the vision and with has been reduced and where to of how

political

Comparable out the Indian Karnataka vernacular in ninthculation mid-eleventh available adaptation and

be observed may strategies through in the following centuries. To the east of we in what is today Andhra that know Pradesh, first experimented intellectuals with inscribed Telugu tenth-century reproduction century.13 epigraphs, of vernacular It is little first but texts the tradition of cir only the model given texts is Nannaya's begins in the

and

at the court of the produced a work in accordance (ca. 1050), Ve?gi C?lukyas composed with the formal of Sanskrit literature and in a new requirements in Telugu remain idiom that will dominant for cosmopolitan to come. centuries Some generations later a geographical entity called vassals heart nectar vividly tion, writes of "Andhra" of would be described the K?katiya kings the land of Andhra, from the center at once to the poet by a court Godavari delta is "the very (the its seven rivers like seven veins of

in Kannada, that the of the Mah?bh?rata,

wonder, of these

running

expresses its production

of a lotus"), and a contemporary to the newness of the vernacular inven the court when he . . but the C?lukya to be born in Telugu and

"Earlier, and many others caused poetry kings ... to be fixed in place in the Andhra land."14 occurs A dramatic in literary in the Tamil culture change ca. world under the later Colas rendered (sometimes "Cholas," If the much contested is ac conventional 1000-1200). dating saw the production Tamil in the of a written literature cepted,

of place, and the role of in Sanskrit. there was poetry

52
Sangam

Sheldon Pollock
or "Academy" of the early centuries of the common

(subsequently largely lost). Yet the language by which political will expressed itself in Tamil country for most of the
first millennium, ary site of the Colas began We of to even in the realm was their Sangam, inscribe a new "region Sanskrit. of the P?ndyan kings, legend From around the 1000, political eulogies through (cen-tamil in a

era

spectacular

Tamil. This development
sphere. mapping find the

is linked to others in the wider
literary of pure territorialization Tamil" of language

literary

nilam):
situated to the

"To the north of the river Vaikai
the city of Maturai), to east of Karuv?r, around "Mirror" the same to the south the west period of

(on whose

banks

is

the river Marutam, of Maruv?r."15 With the of the adaptation a new grammar based and Kampan's magnifi an

production Sanskrit on

(Tantiyalamk?ram),

(V?racoliyam), categories cent version of the Sanskrit R?m?yana?all courtly produc new epoch of Tamil tions?a the themes literature commenced,

Sanskrit

and idiom of which
politan literized Sinhala tion where began Sanskrit in aesthetic.

all indicate the localization

of the cosmo Sinhala is

In Sri Lanka, despite
as graffiti early dates as the from

the fact that documentary
second the and

culture fully literary occurs at the end of the millennium to select poetry. and appropriate formal is the

b.c., century literary an innova fifth or sixth century, we to what see else comparable as vernacular and "Crest thematic Jewel of writers features Poetry" of

some

Paradigmatic

of King Par?kramab?hu II (Kavsilumina, Skt. K?vyacud?mani) (ca. 1250), a poem deeply imbued with Sanskrit literary ideals.
Here too the Sanskrit of "Mirror" [Our] Own and a new was localized under the name Skt. treatise Skt. "The Ornament Svabb?s?lamk?ra), was composed, Par?kramab?hu nation sentations to mainland of Language" grammatical of Principles" that for the geocultural the (Siyab?slak?ra, and poetical (Sidatsangar?,

"Compendium I, r. 1153-1186), polities, a newly coherent

Siddh?ntasamgraha).

It is during

this period,
island time space

too
attained

(under
some

thing approaching political unification
and

by throwing off subordi
first literary appeared; repre the

India in the Vernacular Millennium
P?j?valiya, a the poem, twelfth-century provides as a beautiful island personified cosmopolitan Asia, may be found from the early but formation where an had a detailed woman.16 included a instance

53
de

of scription The Sanskrit area records speaks domain of vernacularization

Southeast available literarily of the an

exemplary in Java. In Sanskrit epigraphical never fifth century on, Javanese some to the is restrictedfor four centuries At beginning of efflorescence in Southeast Asia the of the second litera courtly for centuries,

large of

documentary.

millennium, ture, without manifests body of texts, and kakawin Sanskrit

extraordinary elsewhere parallel in the

itself

of eastern emergent Java. This polities the parvwan Skt. vacana) (or wawachan, especially versions of the (Skt. k?vya) literature?including com of the Sanskrit

the R?m?yana and the Mah?bh?rata?is epics, to the vernacular in every way compositions parable same period to form in South Asia, in respect (complex

metrics),
localized

language

(a highly Sanskritized
of of political codes

register of Javanese),
and geocultural literary and

representations in the choice

power, for making

expositions.17 The shift

political texts that began in South India, Sri Lanka, and Java around 900 and reached maturity by 1200 occurred in northern
India change disputed the Delhi at a somewhat different just what Sultanate from and under conditions of political in the south. It remains obtained in the north, the rise of new ruler lineages its successors and from the fourteenth later date what We Sanskrit cosmopolis. the is, in the first instance, associated with these lineages.18 are vernacularized as well. In here the Tomar as a vernacular for the first dynasty, language nowhere time for of ex state texts to be used the and of the

meant to the breakup century, that vernacularization do know work But of Muslim soon intellectuals courts came in Gwalior gradually non-Muslim

fifteenth-century ample, (though common were idiom Braj

under

political eulogy in northern India),

becomes

literary

to recreate that attempted the cosmopolitan produced in that language. In Visnud?s's of Sanskrit Mah?bh?rata

of 1435
redeployed Gwalior,

(and in his R?m?yanakatb?),
in a way with respect relevant to their culture and

old subject matter

is

to the concerns

of contemporary to the its relationship

54
past,

Sheldon Pollock
their present circumstances, political to a new code.19 literary be in most to chart possible comparable of the rest of southern Asia and, not least, their

relationship It would changes centuries. constitute

over

literary-cultural the following

For Gujarati, the language the

we begin to find texts that for example, as a literary vernacular by the end of

the twelfth century; for Assamese
and Malayalam by literati were centrally By appropriating fifteenth. models involved Sanskrit

by the fourteenth;
In almost in their for all cases production.

for Oriya
courtly and liter

ary expressivity, epic space, remapping communities that would inhabit the new (re)produce themselves intellectuals texts, courtly second millennium created tion. Although the

inscriptional new invoking vernacular those at new the

sociotextual and places vernacular start is not of the forma elimi

by reading/hearing in southern Asia a wholly new code eliminated and of

kind

of cultural

anymore nated, its significance

cosmopolitan than Latin was

Sanskrit in the this we to make varied

in vernacular can

literary sphere All decreased. the political dramatically is far more difficult and know. What sure, let alone for the vastly case, any given South cultural Asia?are transformations. the political these

in the

Europe, of articulation see, mea sense of?in of late of

world

medieval

and

social

meanings

FROM The

IMPERIAL TO VERNACULAR forms of polity the vernacular that appear transformation

POLITY in later medieval

India, with be correlated, take on may the background of the earlier political clearer definition against for characterizes much of that world world of South Asia. What which almost a thousand political to about years?from B.c., when of the fourth century a sharper the takes image with history in the south and perhaps the fourth century or at in the north?is the existence, century on existence, though of empire large-scale is every our while worked reason to the middle

Mauryas, as late as the ninth least purposeful

polities. imperial to coherent resistant where definition, notoriously formations how these political of exactly understanding is little in early India remains There very imperfect.20

of the representation even I say "imperial"

India in the Vernacular Millennium
believe, for example, ever existed anything in India, with that comparable its bureaucrats to

55

the Roman

empire over vast and apparatus territory spread over to standardized from garrisons and weights everything measures. at times one does to And that in attempting suspect to some must extent that the territorial map expansiveness an illusion of historians empire, we may only be mapping classifications for India's political inventing past.21 pressed with Yet there is also little doubt that the universalistic polity was define a dominant a number in early India. Among of ruling the Mauryas the Kus?na/Saka (320-150 B.c.), lineages, including the S?tav?hanas (150-300), (225 B.c.-A.D. 250), (Indo-Scythians) successor the Guptas and their various for (320-550) political ideal in the north 750-950), the and, the exaction formation (especially in Southeast of that Asia, of the Gurjara-Prat?hara, the Khmer of Angkor command alliances, of military the enact

and military control exercising

mations ca.

(900-1300), resources, ment of building, sphere for

the tribute, of matrimonial and

ceremonies political of the establishing

symbolic

without limitlessly, or any other boundary. In other cultural, regard ecological, or imperium, as we may it up to about discern words, r?jyam strove the middle of the first millennium, in some for, and seems to have translocal achieved, practices spread. to the history In contrast in literary of change and political some certitude, that we can trace with the history of language change between encounter scure.22 so-called in the structure of of the disappearance (the history Two dominant polity of the in India last empires for the millennium and the colonial remains the other of ob the the

of influence?all

victory pillars) this could be exercised

practices (temple so as to mark a

the Mughals excepted) one the feudal and models, different

segmentary, give and moral economy political that the state is rather hard

radically of the period. They agree, to find. In the latter model ritual under

accounts

however, it consists

of hierarchically with parcellated authority the center, and in the former it withers away to a feudal of wealth Whatever nobility. seem primarily concerned with how much "incorporation" of power, practices and

at hegemony vast transfers scholars coercion"

the model, "central

In terms of be said to have existed. may as the agency the state may be defined that

56
embodies and enue

SheldonPollock
the sometimes income raid and loot; to build cities capital to gift land to Brahman, and other Jain, temples; rev to grant and to endow institutions; religious to loyal military men to extract to and taxes; capacity to

communities

to perpetuate in the transfer these practices of power; attempt to and to enshrine the fame of the patriline and patronize poets over do so. Most of these practices show substantial continuity a long term, though in any given instance the whole assemblage (despite court in the great royal notable for its absence from the tant recent survey mentions seems (the "state") cultural dimension to have been what the a pretty fragile affair. As for its we saw was the central role of transformation), an literature; it is

vernacular

scholarly culture just once.23

impor If analysis of

middle-period

polity

is only beginning,

analysis

of polity

in

can hardly to culture be said to have begun. relationship to speak it is difficult Given the conceptual confi disarray, in the medieval In the do order. about dently change political one may a new devel main of the geopolitical, detect however, opment that, be of major significance: model of imperium coupled (in some areas beginning if not a mere around artifact the the start of the second we millennium have, would universalistic of the kind with of sources

perhaps of the older core area). and bureaucratization conquest through The universal inherited from of "(limited) image sovereignty" some sense and even in have survived the imperial world may been lands, actualized but to distant adventures through periodic looting no longer was dominion the sought beyond lasting core. While remained distrib power usually political local lineages, ruling zone attained central in some a kind it appears ways of fit with the that then

of the forsaking a new political regionalization centralization by greater accompanied

enlarged uted among the

expanded

areas. A good of this example literary language in Tamil the Colas. is found under process country In one of his most Stein the late Burton essays suggestive crystallizing examined world.24 he of the production Stein also perceives addresses regionality that new in the premodern regions ("cultural Tamil subro

gions") had become
nowhere

identifiable by the twelfth century, though
the macrohistorical questions raised by

this newly visible division of political and cultural space. Yet his

India in the Vernacular Millennium
observations Tamil land, on even between the mechanisms thus limited, by which have wider it was

57

(or "circulatory" tinguishes the former tive" constituted (or formal) regions, by the actual movement the latter produced of people space, through through in textual criteria and the representation of place linguistic remains. Tamilakam ever, Before did the not twelfth coincide.

in produced Stein dis pertinence. and functional) "cogni

circulatory region, covering movement

cognitive Tamilakam the actual

space a closer

two these of century, regions Under the Cola how overlords, a certain attained with isomorphism fit the conception of a of peninsular India and part that larger, ordinary people within cultural of component significant "between the armed force of the state or lit the cosmopolitan-vernacular in the Tamil inscriptions about

a substantial of quite The most was

cognitive region." world this circulatory its political erary texts that these of Cola

not but

administrators two

language the region. Such texts in their representations both articulated and produced by their a cultural-political actual diffusion the "actual and de space, of the region of [Cola] overlordship" liberate demarcations that constituted cultural Stein's culture These every "a macroregion quality." account described include case of (corroborated of distinctive and homogeneous

dynastic disseminated groups

cal transformation

of Tamil by the history literary of the cultural-politi features above) flags key in late medievality. that South Asia witnessed three noted above that are present the new models of the in virtually definition of for court local in the for all

vernacularization: literary the importance of superposed culture-space, and the interest creation, language literary production and twenty of vernacularity. years later we would What causal

factors closer

account

this, and why this all happened when
are not much need between about bear cogent hypothesis the causal relationship guage practices tice?in other vernacularization The language decision of

it did Stein does not tell us,
to knowing.25 clarity (and conceptual region Any about lan prac

to reach cognitive

the

that constitute words, can

it) and circulatory what kind of

to the creation

(political) relation literary of vernacular polity. the literary global and

to abandon literati among courtly in their Sanskrit and speak locally

58
political namic. skrit

SheldonPollock
texts Vernacular cultural norms inaugurates a determinate choice, within entails language and activities, literary-cultural the context of a commitment (grammaticization, dy San to a for

range of disciplinary language and technologies for example) that ensure not ferentiation be may "Kannada" into and a the unification, of the vernacular languages but

practices reproduction

standardization, code. Whereas

(especially writing) and above all dif in "real life" there

only language-continua?where into "Telugu" merges (like "French" imperceptibly so that in fact Kannada and Telugu (and French "Italian"), as pregiven on not even be regarded should Italian) points that a important continuum. akin to effect The the of literary vernacularization boundedness The that language logic of spatial

spectrum?an is to divide has each to

results though taining

logic has its specific Stein's conceptual literary In the same texts

instrumentalities.

boundedness, former (per dic above prac

tionaries, all to define.

and

grammars, domain) deploys to discipline and purify, but related way, cultural-political

tices such as the distribution

of royal inscriptions

(in Stein's

divide space. The unification domain) homogeneous circulatory not only of the logic of the of vernacular language partakes a new of but is historically unification type of political place, with copresent The divisions it. continua of linguistic and homogeneous space into vernacular and heterogeneous places accordingly languages are not givens? a cultural fact. They act, not a natural represent are not, for all that, unreal. the natural and the social reductive to accommodate of vernacular The dichotomy some draw in theorizing is regionality materials such as these.26

yet they between thus The cally too

production contingent

representation. into brought nacular rial

is at once a social, histori places and one not constituted solely by phenomenon are Asia In late medieval such places southern existence by the literary-language and corroborated by the signs of material practices of ver as of (ca. inscriptional-mate transactions such

intellectuals

practices?textual

the distribution Thus land gifting?of pattern ruling lineages. issued by Kannada-speaking Kannada inscriptions C?lukyas

1000-1200)
Y?davas (ca.

or of Marathi
1100-1300)27

inscriptions by theMarathi-speaking
signifies not so much accommoda

India in the Vernacular Millennium
tion of to natural a division Such in areas as the language vernacular locations of recently created. culture-areas, undoubtedly and everywhere else, and literary-, Tamilakam to constitute and elsewhere. continuing that these

59

reproduction real practices hazy none

themselves

had language-,

thirteenth-century theless had begun cal practice there

like a limit of politi something Unlike the ancient S?tav?hanas,

the western

C?lukyas

of the twelfth

century

did not

seek

or Tamil-speaking into Teluguareas; on the deep overlordship came to approxi domain of the C?lukyas the political contrary, as described mate in the principal Kannada the culture-region texts discussed In the same above.28 literary or the Y?davas of Maharashtra, of Gujarat, Indo-Scythians, emerging domain a did not extend their Gujarati to the east years with the imperial the newly outside power or Marathi zones. vernacular The Gajapati unlike that of Kharavela of (ca. 1100-1500), seems to have grown earlier, increasingly in this of Oriya. the domain Somewhere seems to lie a readjust mapping unmapped of political epoch, unlike the Solankis

thousand

symmetrical newly ment

what we now find are dominion; not best designated but vernacular imperial polities.29 Yet if language and place were constitu becoming mutually tive through and circulation of vernacular the representations

regionalized, of the vision

texts?our first two key factors?the third factor, the role of the articulation. None finds direct of our texts, how court, rarely ever courtly concern with in origin, shows the political explicit create. In the case of coherence of the cultural locales they for example, the growing between Kannada, symmetry despite realm and conceptual which of these many literary or documentary political unspoken. Something geocultural be captured n?du, construction Deccan, "area" about this important in the absence discourse by an etymological or "locale," which of a vernacular to k?du, of a presence paradox?the a geopolitical of one?may In Kannada, exercise. the term plays an in role in the important the Kannada-speaking forest. The operative enterprise; R?strak?ta/C?jukya texts were very text articulates under overlordship no Kannada produced, is

the political

like a Kannada anything as an overt territorial project

is antonym

polity uncultivated

60

Sheldon Pollock
involved in the accordingly and transformation, to the the for himself space title in mind that concept evokes the of human of the place the natural of the as as a cultural one teaches

metaphor labor and social world. n?du" much well tion world When

(agri)cultural is thus counterposed Pampa claims

"teacher

he has by his literary achievement, as a political a regional world place, as

as much rules and that exists circula through literary as through In the semantics in dominion.30 of political place a religious act Latinate by contrast, "regio" Europe, bespeaks to turn of the rex that produces it decrees.31 what The power space social them. This Indian these nacular is the first of what incommensurabilities. in order to grasp as millennium we shall And that while a cultural see to be a number important the morphology may phenomenon as a phenomenon it is to of be of Euro explore the ver every of power into place is thus in the embodied agency in vernacular interested two worlds. places, in radically South Asian but it is the different kings poet who forms are of clearly creates

where may

its significations comparable, in fundamental differ ways.

EUROPE VERNACULARIZED The cesses vernacularization appears while of Europe in relation to political pro In understudied question.

to be an astonishingly that

1992,

the editor of the new Oxford History

of Medieval
in "the

Eu
new

rope, noting rightly "the exploita that marked the diversity" in important tion of a variety confessed of languages writings," to be at a loss to explain the origins of the the development: as its results are "obvious turn are as "mysterious" vernacular spectacular."32 remains speculative nacular languages and writers patrons to be satisfied with mented even left to with seem and Thus, about too, M. T. Clanchy says: "[So] much ver the beginnings of writing down . . . a growing in Europe number of why in the twelfth ceased century [in England] as the medium and Trench' of writing and experi does not There instead."33 to whom. trying We are to adjudicate

a major factor late Middle Ages was

Latin

'Romance'

on who to be agreement our party follow sympathies

did what when

India in the Vernacular Millennium
who among Gramsci, the national-popular "mandarinism" people it came tion and regain from held that vernacularization came

61
from

below rising are (the vernaculars E. R. Curtius, who was importance"), re-Latinized elites above (without whose literatures become for whom

a Latinizing up against "written down when the convinced contribu

the

vernacular

"incomprehensible"),

agency disappears altogether; people do not actively choose and the vernaculars culture, just "emerge." The whole remains mysterious in part and speculative question as a social or is rarely studied because vernacularization politi cal of phenomenon. culture courtly almost Even and sociology that of Norbert process, and literature.34 ignores language Latin the the world, cosmopolitan the civilizing in western the of north-south Eu structural the most sustained historical

centrists

Elias, The

totally of breakup of

regionalization rope

the during and differences, linguistic vernacularization crude (in India and Dravidian Europe and Indo-Aryan India vernacularizing tion strikingly Asia.35 detail, various initial Elsewhere rethink the

cultural-political production to fourteenth eleventh centuries, even asynchrony language-family with contrasting in the constitute

both

processes) to what similar I hope to

pace a historical

Germanic terms, Romance Europe and nature of their transforma southern out

spell

happens these

in medieval parallels

explanations pass

processes involved, political scholars have offered for

in greater and assess the these events. An

agreement for example, centuries) "in which to national other Dante's teenth

the material through and One imprecision.

established

that King Alfred a new vernacular and Anglo-Latin and ideology."36 and

considerable dis suggests scholar has recently argued, and his successors (ninth-tenth and bilingual grammatica, tied literary culture were Most students of national

an English identity

identity would
end of De

find this claim hopelessly
historical

anachronistic.

At the
texts like

the geographical

four Vulgari Eloquentia have elicited century) strongly divergent interpretations. A political scientist that the two tracts?and thus implic argues the very of culture and power?represent itly, relationship parallel literary nonintersecting historian insists that and concerns Dante's for Dante, political, whereas linguistic, a and

spectrum, and De Monarchia (early

62
aesthetic

SheldonPollock
theories are thought much remains thoroughly of a decidedly to be intertwined modernist sorted and grounded cast.37 in

"national"

I under out, but what Clearly, stand at present of the politics and sociology of European and Indian vernacularization however similar the that, suggests to be, their actual processes appear foundations, conceptual social uses, and thus meanings differ when sharply, especially viewed want rather in conjunction with larger political a few of these differences to review abstract of level. Europe language and India differ profoundly on the In the and here, social trends. at I a starting

Late-medieval question

multiplicity.

former,

multilinguality

is tainted with

the guilt of diversity: Babel marks

an original

cultural sin, and European politics at the level be interpreted, ably reduction it knew even need sity and forms hence

can argu in early modernity as a project of language, of and the

narratives to purify, through and

India, by contrast?though purification.38 in the realm of will-to-power of language of language decay?never mythologized let alone to purify, sought of eradication. was not a original

sins of diver

a program

punishment, expiated, tilingual opposed There formulated religious of history West-Frankish ture poetry, by

multilinguality in practice though vernacularization capacities, to them. seems to be in early as an overdetermination vernacularization. the vernacular

was a not Diversity to be sin that needed it led to a diminution of mul was never conceptually be the

modern This

of

what may vernacularization literary can be seen throughout Europe

preserved much

from the very beginning turn, (the most St. Eulalie litera 881; indeed, Sequence of to the end of the eleventh is religious century to the high-water from the Latin) of it translated

is evidence of an important confluence Luther's Bible. This mark, and religious the of communicative, factors, social, including of Latin the desire for easier access competence, growing decay and religious knowledge of religious the assertions rulers. pean and Here, too, India looks to for simplifying individuality Sanskrit practices, religious on the part of Euro communicative com

different.

petence remained largely undiminished

in South Asia

(including

India in the Vernacular Millennium

63

serious writers received vernacular where the north, typically texts The most Sanskrit Sanskrit education). important holy the vernacular revolution. untranslated remained Instead, during vernacular Saiva tantras The writings themselves (vacana) "sayings" in Javanese, and literary concerned new became such as scriptures, in Kannada, inMarathi, hagiographies even a Tamil Veda in the Tirumurai. in many terrestrial vernaculars than the was in any transcendent

earliest

case more

production with the

makes the distinction, laukika, "this-worldly," (Pampa himself versus ?gamika, and labels his Bh?rata the former). "scriptural," I cannot illustrate the fact here, And religious plural although ism rather than individualism principle dictated the is characteristic of the cuius of medieval The European rulership. "each local ruler where his own of territory," religious Forms eius religi?, regio, denomination of religious Asian conceptual map.39

is off

South

during gionalized in thirteenth-century as and the such seems

re have may grown identity increasingly circuits this period (as in the new pilgrimage but the nature of the polity Maharashtra), by such important thoroughly developments. late-medieval divorced Governance of meanings than is usually

unaffected in the most more

religion, latter term, were

recognized.40 When literary

vernacularization

in the late medieval Europe seems to be the production These were meant paradigms." with Italy conceptual envisioned account one finds bases as the

in western is fully engaged an invariable concomitant period, one author has called of what "origin

to provide other literary cultures to what comparable fourteenth-century renewal of Roman power. We have no origin mythologemes, on the Greek sources

synthetic but what of the

of such national-literary in Iberia (speculations

Spanish manic-Frankish

France language), sources of French), mechanism" was

or Ger (on the Celtic-Gallic and England (on the Celtic

British sources of English) indicates that some kind of important
"cultural-political this suggests, descent, necessity history. in operation.41 What widely concern with of too, origins, purity as well as a sense of historical and exclusion of mixture, as the subject of and a growing of peoples conception is a broad

64
The other. which

SheldonPollock
concerns Nowhere for of vernacular in the manifold of this in India are totally intellectuals on language, data and identity,

polity for precolonial
politicization Participation religious biological "blood" the not group purposes of group in a

South Asia does anything
discussion we sentiment?seem

like ethnicity?

was culture literary or an ancestral construction of narrow There as never was in South Asia in medieval already is unknown?and tongue" Choice literary language of Konkani speakers of

as the define may to find clear expression. not participation in a group a linkage of of

necessity. and "tongue" "mother systems.

concept closed

Europe42?even were cultures was not the

result of personal could choose destiny; as speakers at any chose Sinhala. Nor of Malayalam Kannada, era can we observe time before the postcolonial the production of what fictive ethnicity, where "the frontiers has been called of kinship prising cultures ness" dissolve" "the and a new comes little "circle into concern cultures of of for extended people" demonstrate existence.43 com kinship" Indian vernacular obsess. "unique On the

the Herderian

over which

national

the present

all strive for a kind of equivalence contrary, by their approxima not turn was The vernacular tion to Sanskrit cosmopolitanism. nor was a quest it informed kind of for authenticity, by any vision, historicist any propagation A final and perhaps sity, original makes is a or other, of shared crucial of tribal memories unity. There or common is in fact hardly descent.

related

of European status to the highly marked of ethnos-imperium-language. linkage have

feature

vernacularization, of linguistic diver its Whatever

may meanings to the Hebrews, you shall not language councilor

century

God the threat that Jeremiah's been, "I shall impose upon you a people whose for the early fourteenth becomes know," a V of France, Nicole of Charles Oresme,

"And for rejecting transnational imperial government: proof-text as if a man as contrary to nature that is therefore something should rule tongue."44 a people It is but a step over who from do this in all not understand his mother of Villers to the ordinances

Cotter?ts
"langage proceedings.

issued by Fran?ois
maternel fran?ois"

I in 1539
judicial

requiring
and

the use of

administrative

India in the Vernacular Millennium
The kind of ideational in the next conjuncture presented Lorenzo by

65

famously Tuscan and Antonio directly expressed

echoed

century for Castilian, de Nebrixa text before in any Indian of South Asia "vernacular

by Oresme, de' Medici for has never been

newly regionalized it seems, but without, D. Smith's idiom. And nation the and turns of mobilization old-new cultural

world

The modernity. shows vernacularly in Anthony mobilization," be that through the modern a process (for "only then can base" for the political

compatriots into the vernacular culture become

it may yet, while "into co-nationals a political

culture"

we no obvious of modernity), have reason to accept?certainly not not for Europe but perhaps even was for India, where cul concerned with power clearly of Smith's ture?the correlate that the old culture of argument, "had no other end beyond itself."45 nonmodernity competition THE END OF THE VERNACULAR AND THE START OF ANALYSIS At every formations turn in this we encounter in South Asia trans MILLENNIUM

of early European moder to power in ways but that relate less easily To nity equated. in Europe understand vernacularization from the four literary teenth century onward?the vernacularization that helped make the nationalization of early modern Europe modern?as ture may be a ideological view, but it is not unreasonable are we the conjuncture But what of factors noticed above. with vernacularization of state where and the telos culture way can we of both symmetry litera given to do

in culture

inquiry similar

to those

rationalized instrumentalized, in other words, How, nity? turn as a problem vernacular of a national These avoid, are narrative? hard problems, instead

is absent and the national never in the emerged in European it did moder the South and power Asian outside culture

understand

concentrating more tial, and certainly ties with colonial European regimes. that the transformations in polity, sciousness generated by colonialism

to which scholars of Asia prefer on the apparently more consequen interactions of Asian manageable, poli At any sociality, are the rate, and ones it is assumed cultural that con really

66
count

SheldonPollock

in the making to study the precolonial of Indian modernity; is to engage in counterfactual scholasticism. In addition to this, most scholars of vernacularization, look a lens crafted in Europe, have it as a treated ing through This is the case with the two nineteenth-century phenomenon. most theories of the production of vernacular forma in the past decade, Ernest Gellner's Nations and Nation alism and Benedict Anderson's Communities.46 How Imagined ever they may on other matters, both highlight cultural diverge on language, based standardized processes cognitive especially in the production of nation-consciousness. literary language, tions account, however, has anything of substance of rests. to say influential

Neither

about

the historicity

of these

literary

languages

in the first
this matter

place; yet that much Gellner's boundaries eties, we polity, that were and

on a secure determination it is precisely of the validity of the two theories

rests on the shifting of modern nationalism theory of literary and nonliterary In agrarian cultures. soci are told, a wide is opened the fact that rulers gap up by

participated
while

in high
the ruled

literary cultures typically
in low

larger than any

typically idioms the latter, (Latin, Arabic, etc.); transpolitical by are unwritten and "invisible." The conclusions Gellner contrast, are major: draws from all this for a theory of the nation "[P]erhaps most the central, fact about is important agro-literate society in it militates this: almost the definition of everything against . . .One in terms of cultural units boundaries. political might of the two potential culture and power, put it this way: partners, destined has much the where dard for each other inclination according for the other to nationalist in the conditions theory, neither in prevailing

participated smaller. The former

cultures nonliterary are based on transethnic

this changes in industrialized societies, agrarian age."47 All a stan the demand for an educated workforce requires literary of liter this and in

either by the generalization language, produced more culture or, often, (i.e., high literary by the elevation of the low. It is the state that creates ary vernacularization) and thereby the coincidence of the units of power culture, culture?nationalism?is A produced. millennium is not long vernacular this neat model.48 The simple dichotomy

easily accommodated between transregional

India in the Vernacular Millennium
ecumene forms unified of and invisible local vernacular crumbles were before when produced themselves. history happened the of modernity we realize

61
that that

the bedrock vernacular

of his literary

thesis cultures

in the course

of the first half of the second millennium
Eurasian occasion in Europe, ment "agro-literate" to the actual alludes Gellner he asks what might have and societies

from within
On

the heart
the one cultures

literary had industrializa

tion begun "during the High Middle
of vernacular destined literatures to become vernaculars eventually that many well before condition believes

Ages, before the develop
was of what emergence of the various national

the basis

high cultures." But it was
European the industrialization before to

precisely

in the High Middle
maturity, takes to be and their

Ages
thus causal into

reached that he

(and well first served and codified to agree

the print-capitalism "'assemble' related

that Anderson vernaculars" considerations has an no-one, in preindustrial to find local

unitary it hard make interest society culture or

literary languages). or almost that "No-one,

These

in promoting cultural homogeneity" that we should it "absurd" consider with a political these models exhibit the principal I am before not

linked

By questioning vernacularizations sees

in nineteenth-century preted as "nationaP'-cultural of "nationalism") refers tices nialism still for which came

be inter they should "National" processes. (not to speak to that specific set of European prac the term was and which colo invented, through Europe, rest of the world.50 the of causal We are scrutiny As I see theories models

"desperate or that

modernity.49 that all suggesting concerns" that Gellner

obliged,

to be exported to the to put under however,

developed logic of confounded but in

to explain that nationalism. two of the most influential not only by what their own

it, the historical are the nation

perhaps

impede the

in the world elsewhere happened us understand? and fail to help domain, us from even seeing?what did happen, let alone this linkage may have varied of such variation?the itself?for a coherent the functionalism throughout other pos

understanding and Eurasia, sible of "ends"

the ways

implications of culture beyond

the non-European. these models and any

Moreover, a more subtle

priori,

alternative

work teleology social-theoretical possibilities.

social theory in embedded to rule out, a

68
To long

SheldonPollock
seek term, over the culture-power relation the our own is to try to pull ourselves up by accordingly, In order the non-European, grasp non-"modern," we are required to set aside the conceptual objects and national by European modernity to put in their place. The critique having anything in their strong and of historical forms knowledge to make the precolonial past, and the past as such, sense. And anyway, origins?has All forms that most of cultural that past?the been already pol constituted to understand

bootstraps.

nonnational, and apparatus ism without of Orientalism also purports unknowable very

in any veridical discourse of vernacular India about included. those

luted by the politics of cultural
contemporary to say pared representation forms?is mary materials modernized) identities: "Dravidian forces of and

identity in much

of the world,
are pre and pri

scholars

in middle-period produced that they have provided resources for derivative

expression Asia?call them the raw

conceptual

(colonized

about thinking cultural-nationalist Advancement

political sovereignty movements such as in Tamil

later, and, and collective the DMK Nadu, or (or the

Movement")

that brought about the reorganization of "linguism" states in India in the 1950s. into linguistic regions as these objections is fatal to a reconstruc are, none Strong so long as they are built into it. That we tive historical project, can about sibility of what ways mary make veridical statements itself truth about the colonial past and Orientalism of historical Orientalism in which ones. And both a more pos implies generalizable to knowledge and some kind of access

simpler: something the core ques about empirical scholarship to culture. in relation is This of polity tions of the development that for of a set of disciplinary the vexatious practices legacy to the social world, too long rendered indifferent the humanities the absence of deep and and about the social sciences indifferent deficiency guesswork to the world that makes of the aesthetic statement expressive. the matter It is this essentially any at present.

reflexivity logical ism. Far more paralyzing

can also chart We the falsely imagined. have reworked derivative representations pri a serious to historical-anthropo commitment can help neutralize determin epistemological than all this is also

India in the Vernacular Millennium In the first half of the second millennium
Eurasia domain traits we can perceive a transformation in its novelty shared?there as an there had imitative every unprecedented seem to be widely vernacular and in the

69

in many parts of

literary-cultural some scope. Whereas a new prestige is clearly been the world for entire its in going his own

in going

and cosmopolitan, torical development Mah?bh?rata)?no transformation vernacularization and directed vernacular transregional regionalized Yet project. mation

previously informs quality

(to unified took

regionalized account theory may In the

the mani

fold relations to the social and political domains
place. Kannada was unquestionably elites, who to The seem a project

in which

this

world,

by ruling turn began

supported the with simultaneously to their circumscribe aspirations polity took with on the congruent increasingly vernacular

both

overlordship. traits that the not

and cultural transfor linkage between political we be easily homologized with what find in, or Spain. France say, sixteenth-century Exclusivist, originary, never arose in Karnataka before colonial ethnicist ideologies may ism (even in modern Karnataka cultural nationalism is con

even Nor did any Kannada writer, spicuous by its absence). so similar a defense while and illustration of cosmo mounting ever aim at du Bellay's vernacularism, (a decade politan goal after would of Villers-Cotter?ts) "draw the nations to his producing after him does a "Gallic by their not mean who Hercules" ears with a chain of course of Kannada vernacularization that all cul

attached

questions tural difference?and produces, for why at create the

This tongue."51 are absent of power it level of

the production is difference that

difference

to say that It is only account of the histories culture-power dress these Yet worth these relation questions. are questions, The form coercive

and geoculture? literature, language, a field of power? at all except within we have neither an adequate at present of vernacularization open enough to stress nor a theory the nonmodern of the to ad are at

I would of

pursuing.

age of

vernacularity

in concluding, that that commenced

the beginning of the millennium
globalization?a and powerful

is ending at its close. Capitalist

cultural far more transregional change than what marked the age of empires

70
and

SheldonPollock

states" with the emer and civilizations?along "fading to this. The entities of new transnational gence political testify cultures the visible vernacular that were signs and sub literary stance of the great transition as on are some the of "postliteracy," epoch take national languages "make their appearance they new are out of work." an everywhere disintegrating; name "where it, has begun,

cosmopolitanism, millennium vernacular literature India has

status of dead and languages" in the postmodern because space only a in English thus proclaim Indian writers a and go so far as to declare, despite

Anglian" tribution is being

that their "Indo of literary production, con constitutes the most valuable "perhaps to the world of books." And yet made last, of culture that began by cultures with that will vernacularization not stay

the territorialization

in literally, re-placed, and diasporas; through migrations place, by "areas on the move" the vernacular and peoples created the cultures epoch during may
a

persist,

but

it is no its

longer

easy end?the

to find dusk

them

as points owl?

on

map.52

that

It is precisely us enables

imminent

of Diana's

began. a more discriminating in different development

once

to grasp the fact that the vernacular sense of how if we have a better And account

millennium

of why standing what choices people made in the be available may predict empire, creating well," that "the decline of and the decline a new

it began, and its very different of of paths we may under have a better worlds, we may be headed, of it is ending and where or did not make future. of the West, For in the past and what if Wallerstein the decline may offer to is right of the American "of

system, judge the operations of also be right that "studying then he may lens of linear uni the distorting systems without past historical in the struggle."53 element well be an essential versalism may

capitalism" better historical

the possibility we provided

ENDNOTES
1 "Regional worlds" is a phrase adopted from the Ford Foundation post-area

studies project designed by Arjun Appadurai Collins and myself (1996).

in collaboration

with

Steven

India in the Vernacular Millennium
2See Richard ix-xix. The G. Fox, ed., Realm remains and vital Region in Traditional India (Durham,

71
N.C.:

Duke University,

Program in Comparative

Studies on Southern Asia,
replacing "imperialist")

1977),
in

question

("Orientalist"

studies of early Southeast Asia; cf. Craig J. Reynolds, "A New Southeast Asia," Journal of Asian Studies 54 (2) (1995): 429.
3See, for example, of Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments

Look at Old

(Princeton, Subal

N.J.: Princeton University
stitution India,"

Press, 1993); Sudipta Kaviraj,
Chatterjee and Gyanendra

"The Imaginary In
Pandey, eds.,

in Partha

tern Studies VII (Delhi: Oxford University

Press, 1992). (Berkeley, Calif.: University of

4Compare Max Weber, Economy and Society California Press, 1978), 212-301.

5Clifford Geertz, "The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States," in Clifford Geertz, ed., Old Societies and New in Asia and Africa (Glencoe, 111.: The Free States: The Quest for Modernity
Press, 1963), 105-157. An anthropological critique that complements my

historicist one is offered in Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 146-147. 6Imean
ined

something
community,

like the process of imagining in Benedict Anderson's
one only intensified by print-capitalism and by

imag

no means

created by it. in the Fourteenth Century (New 7See O. W. Wolters, Two Essay on Dai-Viet Haven, Conn.: Council on Southeast Asia Studies, 1988), 27, vii, 31-32, and
The Nguyen indochinoise H. Mair, either 8See my Anh, "Le Vietnam," L'Harmattan, and the Rise realms (Paris: "Buddhism in P. B. Lafont, ? la p?ninsule ed., Initiation in Victor The 113-139. 1996), arguments of the Written Asia. 300-1300," in Jan E. M. Houben, Vernacular in East Asia,"

Journal of Asian Studies 53 (1994): 707-751,
Vietnam essay, or other "The Sanskrit in southern Cosmopolis,

especially 722, do not hold for

ed., The Ideology and Status of Sanskrit (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 197-247, cially 201-217.
Sanskrit's were also equally used, cosmopolitan but restrictedly M?h?r?stri cousins, and (after a.D. 300) see my Prakrit never

espe

and Apabhramsa, texts. for political "The Cosmopolitan

10For detail

on Kannada

vernacularization

article

Vernacular,"
nKavir?jam?rgam 12Compare 13On the

Journal of Asian Studies 57 (1) (1998): 19-28.
1. 36-38. "The of Telugu, Cosmopolitan see Vernacular," "Emergence and Nation 15-16. of Regional in South Asia," Identity

Pollock, early ed., use

S. Nagaraju, Region,

and Beginnings of Vernacular Literature: A Case Study of Telugu,"
Pollock, "Literary History,

in Sheldon
Social

Scientist 23 (1995): 8-23.
14The citations are from Bhtmakhandamu I thank V. Narayana of Kum?rasambhavamu. and Nannec?duddu's Sr?natha, Rao for these references, and him

and David

Shulman for their translations.

72
15From noted

Sheldon Pollock
Ilamp?ranar's by Zvelebil (whose on commentary translation the Tolk?ppiyam; I cite here), later extend as commentators, the area. See Kamil

Zvelebil, Companion 1992), 136. 16Charles Hallisey,
script). 17On kakawin

Studies to theHistory

of Tamil Literature in History"
A Survey tot

(Leiden: Brill,

"Sinhala Literary Culture
Kalangwan:

(unpublished manu
of Old de the Taal-, Place") Javanese LandLit en

see P. J. Zoetmulder, "Kakawin Reconsidered,"

erature (TheHague: Martinus Nijhoff),
Robson,

1974, and on political allegory, S. O.
Bijdragen

Volkenkunde
fourteenth-century

139

(1983): 291-319.
Desawarnana

See also Robson's
("Description of

translation

of the

by Mpu

Prapa?ca

(Leiden: KITLV,

1995).

18These include the Sufis Baba Farid (d. 1266) and Daud of Jaunpur (fl. 1379). On the first see Christopher Shackle, "Early Vernacular Poetry in the Indus and Stephanie Zingel-Av? Lallemant, Valley," in Anna Libera Dallapiccola
eds., 19The Islam and Indian Regions, is that of R. vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Steiner, "Visnud?s 1993), (a.D. 259-289. 15c) and his characterization S. McGregor manuscript). "Pouvoir central et r?gions dans l'Inde

R?m?yana-kath?" 20See, for example,

(unpublished G?rard Fussman,

ancienne," Annales ESC (4) (1982): 621-647.
21Fox, Realm and Region in Traditional India, xxiii.

22Hermann Kulke, ed., The State in India: 1000-1700
versity Press, 1995) summarizes current debates

(New Delhi: Oxford Uni
and illustrates the concep

tual disunity.
23Ibid., 24Burton 262. Stein, "Circulation and the Historical Geography of Tamil Country,"

Journal of Asian Studies 37 (1) (1977): 7-26.
25Eurasia-wide some migrations of nomadic but questions, Interaction on these bearing "Cross-Cultural Bentley, pastoralists the linkage and during awaits the period clarification. in World The Medieval have may See J. H. History,"

Periodization

American Historical
Eurasian Frontier

Review
After the

101 (3) (1996): 766-768;
First Millennium A.D.,"

Jos Gommans,

"The

History

Journal 1 (1) (1998): 125-143.
26Pierre Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard

University

Press, 1991), 221. Kor?va Lekha (Dharwad:

27Compare the find-spot map in S. G. Tulpule, Pr?dna Mar?thi (Pune: Pune Vidyapith Prakashan, 1963), 47. 28B. R. Gopal, The Chalukyas of Kalyana Karnatak University Press, 1981), 386. 29Contrast Kulke, The State in India, 242-262.
denly with 30Pampa in post-Ottonian than anymore vanish, at re-actualization. intermittent attempts makes this claim in Vikram?rjunavijaya

and

the Kalachuris

The imperial ideal did not sud
Europe, but faded slowly away

14.62.

India in the Vernacular Millennium
31Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, 221.

73
(New York:

32George Holmes, ed., The Oxford History Oxford University Press, 1992), 327-328.

of Medieval

Europe

33M.T. Clanchy, From Memory toWritten Record: England, 1066-1307, 2d ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 218. On the crucial role of the court see David Howlett, The English Origins of Old French Literature (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1996), 165-166.
34Antonio Auerbach's Gramsci, view of Selections from Cultural Writings for (Cambridge, from Mass.: the

Harvard University

Press, 1991),
the vernaculars

188, 168. (Similar ifmore
struggling emancipation

learned is Erich
tyr

anny of Latin; see his Literary Language and its Public in Latin Antiquity and in theMiddle Ages [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965].) Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990), viii, 383-388 (compare the epilogue
by Peter Godman, 650-651). The "emergence" of the vernaculars is found in

Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization, and Cul tural Change, 950-1350 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993),
198. of Corrections are offered of Italian in P. O. Prose," the Language Kristeller, in Renaissance "The Origin Thought, vol. and Development 2 (New York:

Harper
35Except rope 104. 36Martin

and Row,
for the locale

1965),

122.
theorization. This Die Idee is expected der where linguis in der Tra

of vernacular here.

tic difference

from the cosmopolitan
See Karl-Otto

code is greatest
Apel,

(as in South India); Eu
Sprache

is anomalous

dition des Humanismus
The

von Dante
of Textual

bis Vico, 3d ed. (Bonn: Bouvier,
Culture: "Grammatica" and

1980),
Literary

Irvine,

Making

Theory, 350-1100 37See, respectively,
111.: University Literatur

(Cambridge: Cambridge University John Breuilly, Nationalism
Press, fr?hen 1994), Neuzeit 4, and Klaus (T?bingen:

Press, 1994), 14, 415.

and the State, 2d ed. (Chicago,
und Garber, ed., Nation Max Niemeyer Verlag,

of Chicago im Europa der

1989),
38For the Tower

12-13.
Abb? Jacobin Gr?goire, of Babel" and the new of dialects." and Hierarchy for "truth" in 1794 France example, a common demanded was language "at the and Lan Univer

"eradication guage

R. D. Grillo, Dominant Compare in Britain and France (Cambridge:

Languages: Cambridge

sity Press, 1989), 24.
39Hagen Schulze, States, Nations and Nationalism: From the Middle Ages to the

Present
40The

(Oxford: Blackwell,
view that finds

1996),
"no

130.
of a 'divorce' of religion svarajya and poli [Cam as

common

question

tics" in early India (Andr?Wink,
Society tance and Politics under

Land and Sovereignty
Maratha

in India: Agrarian the impor
counted

the Eighteenth-century

bridge: Cambridge University
of Brahmanical in the und four "religion" 41Garber, Nation theory or five

Press, 1986],
and mistakes before der centuries im Europa

16-17)
that

exaggerates
for what

theory colonialism.

Literatur

fr?hen

Neuzeit,

36.

74
'Schulze, ^Etienne

SheldonPollock
States, Balibar Nations and Nationalism, 108. Class: caste counted. et la langue Ambiguous endogamy in and Immanuel Race, Nation, Wallerstein, 86-105. (London: Verso, 1992), Presumably at any level that really such integrative ethnicity Lusignan, Parler vulgairement: Les

Identities hibited *Cited

in Serge

intellectuels

fran?aise aux XIHe
'Anthony D. Smith,

et XlVe
"Towards

si?cles (Paris:Vrin,
a Global Culture?,"

1986),
in Mike

111.
Featherstone, ed.,

Global Culture: Nationalism, 1990), 184. 'ErnestGellner, Nations

Globalization

and Modernity

(London: Sage,

and Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983); Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).
Nations at least Ibid., dimensions and Nationalism, provisionally 43. of the model 141, acceptable 50, 10-12. criterion His of definition culture of might "culture": be lan "[A]n guage."

'Gellner,

'Other

have

been

challenged. Prasenjit

See

Stein

Tonnesson

and

Hans Antl?v,
(preindustrial University

Asian Forms of the Nation
education standardization);

(London: Curzon Press, 1996), 6
Duara, Rescuing narrative History

from the Nation:

Questioning
Press,

Narratives
1995), 52ff.

of Modern
(a longer-term

China

(Chicago,
of

111.:
"na

of Chicago

Social Research 63 tion"); Liah Greenfield, "Nationalism and Modernity," (1) (1996): 3-40 (nationalism in sixteenth-century England); Daniel A. Segal Social Analysis 32 and Richard Handler, "How European isNationalism?" and Otto Dann, ed., (1992): 1-15 (the constitutive role of colonialism); in vor industrieller Zeit (Munich: Oldenbourg, Nationalismus 1986).
'Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, 78-79, 10-12; Ernest Gellner, "National

ism and Politics in Eastern Europe," New Left Review
Anderson, an carries literary 'Even Imagined additional 46-48. Communities, for it enabled irony, as early as 1100 by Since

189 (1991): 127-134;
case, Islam, of numerous

Gellner's principal the vernacularization (Mas'ud its 1780: Sa'd teleology. Programme, Salman).

cultures, "protonational" Nations

in India

Hobsbawm,

is disqualified and Nationalism

Contrast Myth,

E. Real

J.

ity (Cambridge: Cambridge University
"Tirant les Peuples apres luy par

Press, 1990), 46-79.
avecques une Chesne attach? ?

leurs Oreilles

sa Langue" {LaDeffence, 1887 [1549], 162).

et Illustration del Langue Fran?oyse,

ed. Versailles

at Large; Susanne Hoeber See, respectively, Modernity Rudolph Appadurai, and Fading States and James (Boulder, Piscatori, eds., Transnational Religion as a Dead Lan Denis "Literature Westview Colo.: Press, 1996); Hollier, inMarshall N.C.: The Uses (Durham, Brown, ed., History of Literary guage,"

Duke University Press, 1995), 239; Salman Rushdie, "Damme, This is the Oriental Scene for You!" The New Yorker, 23-30 June 1997, 50; Akhil
Gupta and James Ferguson, "Beyond 'Culture': Space, Identity, and the Poli

tics of Difference,"
'Immanuel Wallerstein,

Current Anthropology
Geopolitics and

7 (1992): 10.
Essays on the Changing

Geoculture:

World-System

(Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1991), 237.