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Abstract

Located in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, the area of Badoh-Pathari is home to a rock shelter with a sculpted panel depicting seven mother goddesses. A weathered inscription next to the sculptures was reported as early as 1926. The inscription is dateable to the fifth century on the basis of its palaeography and the art-historical dating of the site. Though partly effaced beyond hope of decipherment, roughly half of the text can be read with confidence, while some of the rest may be restored conjecturally, and some speculatively. The epigraph pays homage to Rudra and Skanda in addition to the Mothers themselves, and is thus a key resource concerning mātṛ worship in the Gupta period. It mentions the otherwise unknown local ruler Jayatsena of Avamukta (a region also named in the Allahabad pillar inscription), and may refer to the reign of Kumāragupta (I).

In: Indo-Iranian Journal
Khwadāynāmag. The Middle Persian Book of Kings by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila analyses the lost sixth-century historiographical work of the Sasanians, drawing on a large number of Middle Persian, Greek, Arabic, and Classical Persian sources.

The Khwadāynāmag is often conceived of as a large book of stories, comparable to Firdawsī's Shāhnāme, but Hämeen-Anttila convincingly shows that it was a concise and dry chronicle. He also studies the lost Arabic translations of the book, which turn out to be fewer than hitherto thought, as well as the sources of Firdawsī's Shāhnāme, showing that the latter was only remotely related to the Khwadāynāmag. It also becomes clear that there were no separate "priestly" and "royal" Khwadāynāmags.
Sharīʿa and Cultural Change in Russian Central Asia
Visions of Justice offers an exploration of legal consciousness among the Muslim communities of Central Asia from the end of the eighteenth century through the fall of the Russian Empire. Paolo Sartori surveys how colonialism affected the way in which Muslims formulated their convictions about entitlements and became exposed to different notions of morality. Situating his work within a range of debates about colonialism and law, legal pluralism, and subaltern subjectivity, Sartori puts the study of Central Asia on a broad, conceptually sophisticated, comparative footing. Drawing from a wealth of Arabic, Persian, Turkic and Russian sources, this book provides a thoughtful critique of method and considers some of the contrasting ways in which material from Central Asian archives may most usefully be read.

Publication in Open Access was made possible by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation.

A number of prominent scholars of Zoroastrianism have recently taken up Marijan Molé’s thesis that Ahura Mazdā created the world by way of a sacrifice. This article examines the sources that have been adduced for the thesis. It concludes that neither in Avestan nor Pahlavi texts do we find any evidence for the supposed cosmogonic sacrifice.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

This article offers a new iconographic reading of the sixth-century architrave of the gateway of the Mahādeva Temple at ancient Madhyamikā (Nagarī). It is argued that the eastern and western face of the architrave should be read in conjunction. The eastern face shows Śiva’s entry as a naked mendicant into the Devadāruvana, while the western face depicts the Kirātārjunīya, a story that is foreshadowed in the panels of the eastern face. The motif that ties both stories together is the Brahmaśiras or ‘Head of Brahmā,’ which is simultaneously the skull that forms Śiva’s begging bowl and the Pāśupata Weapon acquired by Arjuna. The theme of the winning of the Pāśupata Weapon may have had particular resonance for the Aulikara rulers in their troubled times.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

A fragment of a play written on the Buddhist legend of prince Sudhana and the kinnarī has been microfilmed by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. It was probably written at the end of the eleventh century in Bengal by a Buddhist scholar called Śāntākaragupta. The present article contains a critical edition and an English translation of the fragment, as well as an analysis of the intertextuality of the play and especially the literary influences that shaped the author’s poetic diction.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

This article investigates the religious message of a set of inscriptions from Bodhgayā issued by Sinhalese monks in the 5th and 6th centuries ce. The long inscription of the hierarch Mahānāman, in particular, allows an in-depth understanding of this monk’s self-representation as the heir of a virtuous lineage descending from the Elder Mahākāśyapa, committed to the transmission of the Saṃyukta-Āgama, and related to the ruling dynasty of Laṅkā. Moreover, it provides the rationale behind Mahānāman’s aspiration to Buddhahood, as the donor dedicates to this aim the merits of the erection of a temple on the Bodhimaṇḍa itself, hosting a representation of Śākyamuni’s Awakening. I argue that Mahānāman is part of a milieu sharing common origins, monastic background, and aspirations, a milieu that was later labelled as *Mahāyāna-Sthavira by the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

This paper begins with the identification and analysis of some earliest textual references to Pāśupata ascetics, their tenets, and behaviours. Then it inquires into the genesis of Pāśupatism by analysing some critical passages of the Pāśupatasūtra, going beyond Kauṇḍinya’s Bhāṣya. It analyses relevant passages from the Jaiminīyabrāhmaṇa, Mahābhārata, and Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa, and shows how the Vedic govrata or anaḍudvrata has been first adopted and then adapted in Pāśupata tradition, and how Indra, a deity associated with the original vow, comes to be depicted as the primaeval observer of the newly defined pāśupatavrata. It argues further that the conception of the celestial bull as a divinity and the idea of imitating the bull’s behaviour to please that divinity are at the heart of the Pāśupata praxis, in all stages of its development. This paper also argues in favour of recognising “Megasthenes’ Heracles” as Indra, and the Sibae people mentioned in his report as the Śibis.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

This paper considers the limitations of the Śaivas’ prescriptive literature as evidence of the reality of their religion and stresses the benefits of reading it in the light of inscriptions and other forms of non-prescriptive evidence. It utilizes these other sources to address a number of questions that the prescriptive texts do not or cannot address. The first is that of the early history of Śaivism between the Mauryas and the Guptas. It concludes that when initiatory Śaivism achieved its dominance, as it did after the Gupta period, it did so on the basis of a widespread tradition of popular devotion that goes back at least to the second century bc, and that while the ingenuity and adaptability of the emerging Śaiva traditions were instrumental in this rise, a more fundamental cause may have been that in investing in these traditions their patrons were adopting an idiom of self-promotion that would be efficacious in the eyes of an already predominantly Śaiva population. It then presents evidence of this rise to dominance, explains the contradiction between the power and wealth of the Atimārga’s pontiffs seen in inscriptions and the ascetic disciplines prescribed in its literature, shows that the Āmardakamaṭha, the Mantramārga’s earliest monastic centre, at Auṇḍhā, was already active in the sixth century, argues that it was the initiation of rulers, seen in inscriptions from the seventh century on, that enabled the Mantramārga to spread throughout the subcontinent, and demonstrates that already in the seventh century Śaiva initiation had become routinized as a calendrically fixed duty imposed on temple-attached officiants as a condition of their tenure, thus illustrating how inscriptions can reveal mundane realities that the high-minded prescriptive literature is designed to conceal and transcend.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

Abstract

In comparison with the spread of Perso-Arabic astrological traditions into medieval Europe, the Indian reception of the same knowledge systems, known in Sanskrit as tājika-śāstra, has received little scholarly attention. The present article attempts to shed some light on the history of the transmission of tājika-śāstra by examining the statements of Sanskrit authors about their earliest non-Indian sources. In particular, the identities of five traditionally cited authorities—Yavana, Khindhi, Hillāja, Khattakhutta and Romaka—are discussed on the basis of text-internal, historical and linguistic evidence.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal