The New Brahmans: Five Maharashtrian Families

The New Brahmans: Five Maharashtrian Families

The New Brahmans: Five Maharashtrian Families

The New Brahmans: Five Maharashtrian Families

Excerpt

A glance at the map of India will show Maharashtra sprawling across the mid-part of the Indian peninsula, halfway between the northern plains and extreme northern mountains on the one hand, and the extreme southern tip of the peninsula on the other. Its geographical position has made it a meeting ground for influences from the cultures of northern India, which from the thirteenth century until the British conquest was under the domination of foreign dynasties drawn from the Middle East and Central Asia, and influences from the very different culture of southern India, which largely escaped foreign conquest.

Thus, for example, the language of Maharashtra, Marathi, is the southernmost member of the Indo-European language group spoken on the Indian mainland; but in another aspect of Maharashtrian culture, that of marriage customs, the south Indian pattern is generally followed, and the approved custom is for a young man to marry his mother's brother's daughter or his father's sister's daughter.

But Maharashtra's importance lies not so much in its mixed culture as in the distinguished role it has played in Indian history from at least the seventeenth century until now. This is my native region, where I have resided for practically the whole of my active life; and it is my familiarity with the region and its language, as well as my conviction that what has happened in Maharashtra is significant for the of the develop-

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