Conceptual Cities

In pre-colonial India, ideas about kingship and about cities were never static; indeed, their development over time could in itself provide an interesting area of enquiry. But as a preliminary to our case study we have here chosen to focus on a few salient elements that were consistently present in definitions of kingship and of cities up until the eighteenth century. We have drawn chiefly on two related genres of literature. The first is niti shastra, or treatises on politics and statecraft. Here we have used in particular the ancient classic of the genre, the Arthashastra, composed during the Mauryan period (fourth to third centuries bc) and well known ever since, and - to give a more contemporary perspective - the late derivative work the Sukraniti. The second genre is vastu shastra, treatises that deal with architecture, planning and all other aspects of design. Here again our sources include two early classics, the Manasara and the Mayamata, and also two later works - the Samrangana Sutradhara, written in the eleventh century for Raja Bhoja of Dhar, and Mandan's Rajavallabha, written in the fifteenth century for Rana Kumbha of Mewar - whose northern provenance and Rajput patronage put them closer to our case study of Jaipur. The question of the relationship between the ideas contained in such texts and actual historical practice is touched on here but is considered more fully in later chapters.

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