P. K. SHUKLA*
Pre-Colonial Cultural Legacy and Colonial Intervetion: An Historical Appraisal'" *
With the partition of India in 1947 a different kind of revivalist trend in historical writings has once again emerged, gaining momentum in recent years. Though such trend has a very weak foundation mainly due to the distorted presentation of historical events, an impression has been created in the body politic of Indian society that India as a nation has mainly two distinct cultures and two religions. Religious and regional identities have often been mixed with culture to the neglect of pluralistic and heterogeneous character of Indian society. Erroneously culture has been mixed with religion and conflicts between communities have been interpreted on sectarian lines. In such a situation the existence of a strong tradition of composite culture prevalent at the grass-roots levels of pre-colonial society has been denied its due place. It is therefore necessary that a study of the traditions as really existed all over India should be vigorously pursued on the basis of original sources.
Kinchipuram, the capital of Pallavas is considered to be one of the seven sacred cities in India. It is a sacred place not only for the Saivites and Vishnuites but also to Shakti (Kamakshi) Saumkha, the Buddhists and the Jains. Apart from a Hindu religious centre, Kanchi has been a centre of Jainism and Buddhism. The Buddhist pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang in his Siyuki mentions Kanchi. He says that Talopitu had been frequently visited by Buddha and near Kanchihpu-lo (Kanchi) were traces of a sitting place and exercise walk of the four past Buddhas.1 He also states that during Asoka's period, not far to the east of Kanchipu-lo, was an old Sangharama (monsastry) of which the vestibule and court were then covered with wild shrubs, built by Mahendra, the younger brother of Asokraja. The copper plates of
Deputy Director, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi.
* Paper presented at the 61st Session of the Indian History Congress, Calcutta.
Social Scientist, Vol. 29, Nos. 3 - 4, March-April 2001