Professor Krishna Mohan Shrimali is amongst the handful of scholars who have consistently pursued an academic interest in the histories of religious traditions. What is more, his analysis is almost invariably located within the socio-economic contexts of these traditions and is informed by a careful consideration of historiographical debates. The fact that most of the essays in the anthology under review were written during the last two decades makes these two volumes particularly valuable, as this period has been marked by a vociferous, often violent assertion of religious identities. It is in this context that reminders about the complexities of our past are crucial, even as it is likely that they will not receive the attention they demand and deserve at the present juncture.
Perhaps the most enduring contribution of a historical study of religious traditions is in providing an understanding of change, continuity as well as disjuncture. The present anthology provides ample evidence of all three processes, as the author attempts to both document and explain them. What is also evident is the remarkable caution advocated and exercised by the author, warning against undue speculations, attractive and even seductive as some of these often appear.