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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This paper examines the description of the funeral ritual to be performed for a lay Digambara Jain which is provided by Somasenabhattāraka in his Traivarnikācāra , written in Maharashtra in 1610. This description represents the fullest textual account hitherto available of premodern Jain mortuary ceremonial for a non-renunciant. Despite Jainism's consistent rejection of brahmanical śrāddha ceremonies intended to nourish deceased ancestors, Somasenabhattāraka clearly regards the performance of these as a necessary component of post-funerary commemoration. The paper focusses on Somasenabhattāraka's references to árāddha and the ancestors and suggests how categories deriving from brahman ritual ideology were maintained in a devalorised form in the Digambara Jain context.
The one-act Sanskrit drama Madhyama-vyāyoga or "The Middle Brother" attributed to Bhāsa describes an oedipal encounter between the Pāndava hero Bhīmasena and his half-demon son Ghatotkaca. The author utilizes subtle techniques of word choice and strategic repetition of key words, particularly sadrśa 'like, similar,' to hint at the underlying similarity of the superficially unlike pair. This keyword technique, which is found only sporadically in Sanskrit, is compared to similar techniques in other literatures, particularly the Leitwortstil characteristic of Biblical Hebrew.