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It is the eighth century in South India during the rule of the Rashtrakutas. Indian philosophy is at its zenith, Ayurvedic knowledge is being compiled and the new Prakrit languages are being developed to read and write new texts. The heroine, Sharvay, is born into this world with many disadvantages. She is an orphan, the daughter of a dasi, a mixed-caste person of low social standing, bonded to the royal princess of Kavipura as a spittoon holder. Despite all this, she is determined to devote herself to a life of learning and becoming a philosopher. Can Sharvay overcome the socially imposed limits of caste and gender to access Sanskrit and philosophy? If she does succeed, will her teachings be validated by the world?

Sharvay’s story is told through the experience of a contemporary woman academic who chances upon a sculpture of an ancient female philosopher during her research. The sculpture inspires the academic to dream of Sharvay’s life. She forms a bond with this exceptional historical character as she encounters places and objects that were important parts of Sharvay’s life.

This remarkable debut novel sensitively explores what it meant to be an ordinary, marginalized person in ancient India, and questions the gender, class and caste biases within the discipline of philosophy, which has been dominated by men for centuries. Intriguing, atmospheric and richly imagined, Sharvay is historical fiction at its best.

Author's Name
ImprintSpeaking Tiger


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