Recconstructing History from Tangible and Intangible Heritage. Dr Arvind Jamkhedkar. July 2, 2022

Reconstructing History from Tangible and Intangible Heritage. Tamil Heritage Trust's Monthly Heritage Talk for July 2022. India has a rich legacy of tangible heritage - monuments, inscriptions, literature, architecture and art - that is vital to the study of our history. Equally, the country is replete with intangible heritage in the form of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events. How can a historian weave together strands from the tangible and intangible heritage of a place or an idea to reconstruct its history? In his talk for THT, "Reconstructing History from Tangible and Intangible Heritage: A case study from medieval Maharashtra", Dr Arvind P Jamkhedkar, takes the fascinating example of the Renukādevī cult from Mahur in Nanded district to demonstrate the seamless coalescing of these tracks. Āmalī-grāma-māhātmya relates the mythic legend of Renukādevī, mother of Parashurāma. After she voluntarily immolated herself along with her dead husband, she emerges from the womb of the earth only upto her neck. She is worshipped with offerings of flesh and liquor and a folk dance known as Gondalī-dance, which is performed in Maharashtra to this day at auspicious events like weddings. The dance has been recognised since the 12th century CE and has been mentioned even from Tamilnadu (Kondalī dance). The dance is derived from the Gond tribe, whose origin myth connects them to the goddess Kālī. In turn, this points towards the process of assimilation of the Gonds with the urban Hinduism. The whole saga of Renukā-māhātmya is an excellent example where the tangible and intangible evidence has played an important role in reconstructing the Cult of Renukā in the Deccan. The Speaker: Dr Arvind Prabhakar Jamkhedkar was the Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) from 2018-2021. He is the Chancellor of the Deccan College Pune, deemed a university, an institution from which he took his Ph.D in Ancient Indian Culture in 1966. He has served as the Director of Archaeology and Museums in Maharashtra. He has participated in numerous excavations of chalcolithic, megalithic and early historical sites. Proficient in classical and vedic Sanskrit, Pali and Ardhamagadhi, his wide range of research interests includes archaeology, temple architecture, art history, epigraphy, Buddhism and Jainism and more. He has published excavation reports, monographs, critical editions of books and dozens of articles in journals. He is a member on several Boards and Committees in the field of heritage and history. has been conferred several awards and feted at international conferences.