Review of Religion in Vijayanagara Empire
Konduri Sarojini Devi, Religion in Vijayanagara Empire, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, 1990, Rs. 3CMO
Works on religion in pre-modern south India have generally concentrated on the histories of individual religions such as Vaisnavism, Saivism, Jainism and Buddhism and often covered a long chronological span—from the 'earliest times' to the Vijayanagara period. Few have taken up specific dynastic periods for the study of religions and religious institutions. This, in itself, would seem to provide a valid reason for studies of the present variety to be undertaken. Konduri Sarojini Devi has chosen to present an overview of the religion(s) and religious institutions during the three centuries of Vijayanagara rule, thereby filling, in a sense, what may be perceived as a major lacuna in Vijayanagara studies.
Common to all such works is the traditional approach to the study of religious history, especially those published before the sixties. This is true also of the post-1960 publications, the present one being no exception. They are dominated by the narrative method and a conventional schema, viz. the origin and spread of a religion and a descriptive account of institutions and their patronage. The present work differs, if at all, only in its chapterisation following the pattern of one religion-one chapter, in which the major concern is to present the data from literary and epigraphic sources neatly organised in chronological sequence. Works of this kind hardly attempt to look beyond the phenomenal! ty of religion and to understand the underlying socio-economic and political factors and their interconnections. However, they have their relevance and use as reference works, in so far as they are able to bring together an impressive volume of material from both primary and secondary sources, as shown by the present monograph.
It would perhaps be unfair to judge a work of this kind from the methodological point of view or from the new perspectives emerging from studies on religion in recent years. For, the work makes no claim to an analytical framework, nor does it attempt any serious re-interpretations. It confines itself, understandably, to minor problems of
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, Nos. 8-9, August-September 1990