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Romila Thapar: Dissent In The Early Indian Tradition

27 October 2015

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The 7th ‘M.N.Roy Memorial Lecture - Dissent in ancient India’ delivered by Prof. Romila Thapar in 1979, refutes the much propagated theory that ancient Indian society was a vision of harmonious social relations in the land of plenty and shows that discontent existed against oppressive social & political relations and ‘dissent’ found expression in various forms of protests like renunciation, setting up of separate religious sects/monasteries, migration of peasants to other places as mark of protest against heavy taxes thus disrupting the economy of the kingdom and creating revenue problem for the King, breaking of caste rules by joining monasteries which were open to all castes and where equality practised, etc.etc. Budhist Jatakas literature has many references of protests by subjects against oppressive kings and throwing them out of the kingdom. ‘Mahabharata’ justifies ‘right to revolt’ if the King is oppressive and even permits his assassination.

N.D. Pancholi (Indian Renaissance Institute)

Dissent In The Early Indian Tradition by Dr. Romila Thapar [PDF version]
7th M N Roy Memorial Lecture 1979