Ranjeeta Dutta gives a working paper on ‚Unequal Spaces, Equal Access: Negotiating Religion in the Temple Town of Srirangam in Early Modern South India‘

The present paper will examine the ways in which sacrality and urbanism provide the basis of relations of social dominance influenced by caste, occupational hierarchies and ritual rankings of the social groups. On the basis of a case study of the craftsmen at Srirangam, the paper will discuss the ways in which unequal social spaces were created within the city reflected in the existence of different streets around the temple, the distance of each of which from the temple was directly proportional to the social status of the inhabitants residing in those streets. Various religious groups associated with the temple interacted with this hierarchical urban morphology and developed followings by creating spaces of ‘equal’ access through inclusivistic ritual activities within the temple. While these ritual spaces had a semblance of equal access, in many ways the social hierarchy of caste was still maintained within the temple. In many ways, the temple provided an arena of competitive control of resources and followers for different religious groups. These religious groups dovetailed between social hierarchies and fluidity of the city boundaries lending dynamism to religion and urbanity.

Devmini Malka Wijeratne presents a working paper on ‚ Bedazzling the city of brick: Why did Augustus renovate and reconstruct existing temples, rather than add new temples to the landscape?‘

The previous chapter focused on Augustus‘ use of his names to imply that he was somehow a saviour and preserver of ancient traditions. This chapter will focus on how he demonstrated this physically. Essentially, this chapter will argue that his restoration and preservation of the decaying temples showed his desire to restore and preserve Roman traditions. It will also argue that prior to building these temples -and then throughout his political carer – Augustus glorified Rome’s past and particularly exaggerated how the city’s adherence to its traditions and rituals were the reason for its success. It will imply that, having little memory of how frequently these practices were observed by older generations, the Roman people would have felt more guilt and grief over the loss of this imagined, glorious past. This in turn would have created greater appreciation for Augustus and his supporters, and their contribution to the revival of the temples and also their traditions. It will also point out that some other reasons for his decision to reconstruct may also have existed. However, while these would not directly have involved some manipulation of sentiments towards old traditions, the reasons behind them were still very political and were still carried out with the intention of maintaining Augustus‘ image of being a moral leader who had the peoples‘ best interests at heart.

Ranjeeta Dutta is going to present a working paper on ‚‘Temple Town’ as a Typology for Understanding Religion and Urbanity: The Case of Srirangam in Early Modern South India‘

This paper will first discuss the category of ‘temple town’ and ‘temple
urbanism and temple urbanization’ in South India as presented in the historical research and try to understand the viability of such phrases/terms as typologies for understanding religion and urbanity. Secondly, it will explore the development of Srirangam as an urban centre around a single cultic focus of the Ranganathasvami temple. An attempt will be made to analyse the processes through which the temple became the centre of diffusion not only for religious ideas and Srivaishnava community identities, but also of societal and political aspects of urbanism and urbanity that influenced its character and settlement patterns in the early modern period, from the fourteenth to eighteenth century CE.