The World of the Skandapurāṇa


Author: Hans Bakker
The World of the Skandapurāṇa explores the historical, religious and literary environment that gave rise to the composition and spread of this early Purana text devoted to Siva. It is argued that the text originated in circles of Pasupata ascetics and laymen, probably in Benares, in the second half of the 6th and first half of he 7th centuries. The book describes the political developments in Northern India after the fall of the Gupta Empire until the successor states which arose after the death of king Harsavardhana of Kanauj in the second half of the 7th century. The work consists of two parts. In the first part the historical environment in which this Purāṇa was composed is described. The second part explores six localities in Northern India that play a prominent role in the text. It is richly illustrated and contains a detailed bibliography and index.

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Hans Teye Bakker (1948) is professor emeritus of Sanskrit and Hinduism at the University of Groningen.
He published numerous books and articles on the history of Hinduism. He is one of the editors of the critical edition of the Skandapurāṇa.
'Le livre de Hans Bakker est sans nul doute une contribution importante tant à l’histoire politique de l’Inde du Nord au VIe et VIIe siècles qu’à l’histoire du shivaïsme ancien. N’étaient quelques réserves pour certaines interprétations, les sources sont minutieusement présentées (traduites dans le corps du texte, avec le texte original en note). L’ouvrage fourmille de détails intéressants et offre un panorama, aussi clair que possible étant donné la nature fragmentaire du corpus de sources disponible, du contexte politique et culturel dans lequel la composition du Skandapurāṇa prit place. Il propose de corréler le texte avec des sites archéologiques anciens, même si une certaine part d’incertitude demeure. Il illustre ainsi comment mettre en relation sources textuelles, inscriptions et vestiges archéologiques.'
Emmanuel Francis (CEIAS/UMR 8564 ; EHESS / CNRS), Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient, 101 (2015) 'While this landmark study provides the deepest insights into the Skandapurāṇa to date, it raises a great deal more questions, as our deepening knowledge of this text continues to challenge our notions of early Saivism. (...) The tremendous value of this volume – and of the entire Skandapurāṇa project – cannot be understated: it is a model of thorough and sober scholarship on this fascinating and tremendously important text. A project of this magnitude and quality is sure to enrich Indological scholarship for generations to come.'
Travis L. Smith, Seoul National University JRAS, Series 3, 27, 3 (2017).
All interested in the cultural history of Northern India of the classical and medieval period.
Sanskritists and historians of religion who are concerned with Purana literature and the development of Saiva devotion in the 6th and 7th centuries.