This study shows how myths construct and express the social identities of a community. Focusing on Rajasthan, it describes how myths here mostly centre around the theme of violence and its rejection. The social persona of the trading groups are created around this and hence issues of violence and its control emerge as the symbolic key to trader social identity in this cultural context.

Analyzing what myths have to say about traders, the author examines the nature of caste in general, as well as the specific place of trading castes in Indian society. Moreover he looks at the problems of the social identity of traders. By studying myths, the book shows how Indian trading groups have dealt with these problems by using symbolic material provided by their specific social and cultural milieu.

Finally the author looks at the role of myth itself as a repository of socially important knowledge.

Violence and the Ways of Trade

Violence and the ways of trade

How can the vulnerability of wealth be reconciled to the irresistibility of power? It is sometimes said, of course, that wealth is power. And it is true that wealth and power are similar in that each is, in its essence, a capacity to command the efforts of other persons. But if by power we mean political power, then wealth and power are, though related, not quite the same thing. Our sense that this is so is registered by the fact that we also say that wealth can purchase power and power can seize wealth—usages that draw upon a realisation that they are, in fact, different, and that their relationship is partly antagonistic. We know, ...

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