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Academic study of Asia’s tantric traditions has blossomed in recent decades. Once dismissed as marginal, or unworthy of serious attention, we now understand the Śaiva, Buddhist, Vaiṣṇava, and Jaina tantric traditions as integral to the religious and cultural landscapes of medieval South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. This shift, which is reshaping the historiography of medieval India, is in no small measure due to the magisterial contributions of Alexis G.J.S. Sanderson, Fellow of All Souls College and Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at Oxford University, from 1992–2015, and now Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College. The present book is a collection of essays in his honour, written by specialists of the various fields he has influenced from around the world, most of whom were his students at Oxford.

The twenty-three chapters of this volume span multiple fields of Indology. Organized around the theme of “Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions,” the essays are nonetheless diverse in method, historical context, and source material. Hinting at Alexis Sanderson’s own scholarly breadth, the essays here assembled span the history, ritual, and philosophies of Śaivism and Tantric Buddhism, Vaiṣṇavism, religious art and architecture, and Sanskrit belles-lettres. Together, they represent a significant contribution to our understanding of the cultural, religious, political, and intellectual histories of premodern South and Southeast Asia. Most of the contributions are original studies of primary sources of the tantric traditions, reflecting Sanderson’s relentless commitment to philology and the discovery of new sources. The essays have been grouped into five parts, within which they appear more or less chronologically, according to subject matter. Part 1 concerns early Śaiva traditions: the pre-tantric Śaivism of the Atimārga, as well as the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā, perhaps the earliest surviving Śaiva tantra. The essays of part 2 concern Śaiva and Buddhist exegetical and philosophical traditions. Part 3 brings together studies on the topics of religion, polity, and social history, while part 4 (“Mantra, Ritual, and Yoga”) concerns religious practices. Part 5’s essays on art and architecture complete the volume. Naturally, the five parts of this book overlap somewhat, and several essays would be at home in more than one.

The volume’s first chapter, by Peter Bisschop, bears the title “From Mantramārga back to Atimārga: Atimārga as a Self-referential Term.” Following the publication of Alexis Sanderson’s groundbreaking article “Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions” (1988), the division of Śaivism into Atimārga and Mantramārga has become commonplace among students of Śaivism. Atimārga in this classification refers to the ascetic path associated with the Pāśupatas and Lākulas, while Mantramārga refers to the ‘higher’ tantric path with its various sub-divisions. Bisschop’s paper first of all observes that this division represents a purely Mantramārga perspective on Śaivism, for so-called ‘Atimārga sources’ seemingly do not use the term Atimārga. The main part of the paper then draws attention to a passage from an unpublished ca. twelfth-century Māhātmya of Vārāṇasī that does uniquely use the term in what may be called an Atimārga context. The passage in question centers on Vārāṇasī’s cremation ground and Bhairava’s teachings and activities there. The passage on the one hand attests to the existence of a strong Atimārga community in Vārāṇasī around the time of the text’s composition, but also to the transmission and knowledge of the Svacchanda there. It also testifies to the fact that the views on what constituted Śaivism in early-medieval India differed across different Śaiva traditions and that much of our modern understanding derives from specific textual traditions that only represent one layer within a much broader spectrum of religion oriented around the worship of Śiva.

Chapter 2, by Judit Törzsök, addresses the question, “Why are the Skull-Bearers (Kāpālikas) Called Soma?” One of the alternative names by which pre-tantric Kāpālikas or ‘Skull-Bearers’ were referred to in classical India was “Those Who Profess the Soma Doctrine” or simply “Soma People” (somasiddhāntavādin, somajana). The word Soma also appears regularly as the last part of their initiation name. Törzsök’s chapter explores what this appellation could have meant for the Kāpālikas according to period sources, including inscriptions, purāṇic and dramatic literature, without arriving at a definitive answer. First, it is argued that the later derivation sa-Umā (‘accompanied by Umā’) is probably to be rejected, for female initiates also bore the name -Somā. Second, the appellation is also unlikely to refer to the vedic Soma, for Kāpālikas were not commonly known to perform vedic sacrifices. It is possible that the name Soma may derive from the name of their legendary founder, Somaśarman, but it may have had additional connotations. It may also have referred to the moon and its whiteness (evoking the whiteness of the ashes of the cremation ground or of human bones), the nectar of immortality (amṛta) the moon is supposed to contain (immortality being a main goal of all power-seekers), or any nectar, such as alcohol, regularly used in Kāpālika worship. Finally, given the polysemy of the word, it could also be understood to mean “the best,” implying that the Kāpālikas, just as other Śaivas, considered themselves to follow the best way that leads to power and final release.

Chapter 3, by Dominic Goodall, is entitled “Dressing for Power: on vrata, caryā, and vidyāvrata in the Early Mantramārga, and on the Structure of the Guhyasūtra of the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā.” One of several meanings proposed by Monier-Williams for the term vrata is “a religious vow or practice,” which has led to the widespread tendency to translate vrata with “vow,” thus calling to mind a web of partly alien ideas about promised religious undertakings that culminate in offerings made ex voto suscepto, upon attainment of one’s desired end. A better approximation is perhaps “timed religious observance.” This paper attempts to address the question “What is a vrata?” by attempting to uncover how the notion is used and understood in early works of the Mantramārga, in particular the sūtras of the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā. In doing so, it touches upon the layered composition of the Guhyasūtra. The early history of the term caryā (in the tetrad jñānā, kriyā, caryā and yoga) is also illuminated, as well as the use of the expressions vidyāvrata, puraścaryā and pūrvasevā.

Part 2 contains five chapters concerned with Śaiva and Buddhist philosophical and exegetical traditions. Chapter 4, by Alex Watson, discusses where precisely the self-theory (ātmavāda) of Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha II—the most prolific and influential of the early Śaiva Siddhānta exegetes (c. 950–1000)—should be placed in the nexus of other rival positions. Its relation to the self-theory of Rāmakaṇṭha’s Buddhist and Naiyāyika interlocutors is considered, and so too in passing to that of the Sāṅkhyas and the non-dualistic Śaivas. A previous article (Watson 2014) places Rāmakaṇṭha’s Saiddhāntika view in the middle ground between Nyāya and the momentariness theory (kṣaṇikavāda) of the Buddhists. The present chapter adds a number of considerations that, while not invalidating the ‘middle ground thesis,’ show it to be one-sided and incomplete. Some of these considerations weigh in favour of seeing it as just as ‘extreme’ as Nyāya; others in favour of seeing it as more extreme than Nyāya. The conclusion considers whether and how these varying perspectives can be integrated.

Chapter 5, by Isabelle Ratié, is entitled “Some Hitherto Unknown Fragments of Utpaladeva’s Vivṛti (II): Against the Existence of External Objects.” As Ratié highlights, Utpaladeva’s detailed commentary (the Vivṛti or Ṭīkā) on his own Īśvarapratyabhijñā treatise was certainly the most innovative text of the Pratyabhijñā corpus; unfortunately, however, to date we only have access to fragments of this work, as first discovered by Raffaele Torella. This chapter is part of a series of papers by Ratié devoted to the edition, translation and explanation of shorter fragments of the Vivṛti found in the margins of manuscripts containing Abhinavagupta’s commentaries on Utpaladeva’s treatise. The paper deals with fragments of the Vivṛti on verses 1.5.6–9, which argue against the Sautrāntikas’ thesis that we must infer the existence of a reality external to consciousness in order to account for phenomenal variety. In these fragments Utpaladeva shows not only that, as already emphasized by the Vijñānavādins, postulating the existence of an external world is of no use in the realm of everyday practice, and that an external object must have contradictory properties whether it is understood as having parts or not, but also that the very act of mentally producing the concept (and therefore the inference) of an external object is in fact impossible to perform, because an object by nature alien to consciousness is simply unthinkable.

Chapter 6, by Christopher D. Wallis, is entitled “Alchemical Metaphors for Spiritual Transformation in Abhinavagupta’s Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī and Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛtivimarśinī.” In this essay, Wallis examines an alchemical metaphor for spiritual transformation found in Abhinavagupta’s two commentaries on the Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā of Utpaladeva. Analyzing this trope provides insight into Abhinavagupta’s innovative usages of the key terms samāveśa, turya, and turyātīta. Additionally, the essay considers his homology of the fivefold self—Void, prāṇa, the subtle body consisting of the mind and its faculties (puryaṣṭaka), and physical body, plus the transindividual Power of Awareness (citi-śakti)—with the five phases of lucidity: the states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep, the transcendental ‘fourth’ state, and the state ‘beyond the fourth’ (turyātīta). As Wallis shows, these passages in the two different commentaries do not entirely agree, and both present textual problems. His provisional conclusion is that Abhinavagupta seems to change and develop his view in the time between the two commentaries: the Vimarśinī features a simpler model of a gnostic transcendentalist turya succeeded by an ‘immanentist’ yogic turyātīta (the latter being marked by the transcendent element’s pervasion of all that was previously transcended), while the Vivṛtivimarśinī proposes two distinct versions of both turya and turyātīta, gnostic and yogic, respectively (yielding four categories in total), where the yogic is to be preferred despite being more gradual because in it the saṃskāras of dualistic experience are finally dissolved. Wallis’ analysis of these problems gives us a deeper understanding of Abhinavagupta’s thought, and points us in some intriguing directions.

Chapter 7, by Péter-Dániel Szántó, is entitled “On Vāgīśvarakīrti’s Influence in Kashmir and Among the Khmer.” In this essay, Szántó seeks to elucidate the role and importance of an early eleventh-century Buddhist scholar, Vāgīśvarakīrti, far from his homeland in Eastern India. The first part examines a passage showing that, probably still during his lifetime, he was considered an important opponent by a Kashmirian scholar, Ratnavajra. The debate in question comcerns the validity of the so-called Fourth Initiation. The second part of Szántó’s essay advances the hypothesis that, although not mentioned by name, Vāgīśvarakīrti is referred to in a Khmer inscription from the same century.

Chapter 8, by Srilata Raman, is entitled “Reflections on the King of Ascetics (Yatirāja): Rāmānuja in the Devotional Poetry of Vedānta Deśika.” This paper is concerned with examining one specific hagiographical genre within the Śrīvaiṣṇava tradition—the praise-poem addressed to the ācārya, in this case Rāmānuja. It looks in detail at two of these poems, one in Tamil and the other in Sanskrit. These are “The 100 Antāti Verses on Rāmānuja” (Irāmāṉuja Nūṟṟantāti) of Tiruvaraṅkattamutaṉār, one of the earliest hagiographical/stotra works we have at hand on Rāmānuja, and Vedānta Deśika’s “The Seventy Verses on the King of Ascetics” (Yatirāja Saptatiḥ). Analysing the main motifs of these poems as traceable to the Tamil devotional poetry of the Āḻvārs, the paper also demonstrates that a central motif within the poems contributes to a reconsideration of prapatti doctrine in the post-Rāmānuja period, leading to the idea that “love for the ācārya” (ācāryābhimāna), and, in the most extreme case, belief in Rāmānuja’s prapatti, is itself sufficient for salvation. The analysis of the stotra literature on Rāmānuja here, by no means exhaustive but rather illustrative of the formative phase of doctrine, also reinforces a central contention of this paper: that devotional poetry composed not just by the āḻvārs but also by later the ācāryas is central—as central as commentaries and independent works—to the evolution of Śrīvaiṣṇava doctrine.

The essays of part 3 concern various aspects of religion, the state, and the social history of premodern India. Chapter 9, by Csaba Dezső, is entitled “Not to Worry, Vasiṣṭha Will Sort it Out: The Role of the Purohita in the Raghuvaṃśa.” This essay examines the various tasks Vasiṣṭha fulfils in the Raghuvaṃśa as the royal chaplain of the kings of the Sūryavaṃśa. As Dezső shows, these are in harmony with the standards laid down in the Arthaśāstra, from officiating at life-cycle ceremonies to empowering and defending the king and his army with the help of Atharvavedic mantras. Vasiṣṭha also acts as the king’s mentor and chief advisor who tries to reason against Aja’s overwhelming grief, placing the interests of the dynasty before the king’s private emotions. These verses of the Raghuvaṃśa invite comparison with a passage in Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita in which the chaplain and the minister try to persuade the bodhisattva to return to the palace and to carry out his role as the heir to the throne.

Chapter 10, by Gergely Hidas, is entitled “Buddhism, Kingship and the Protection of the State: The Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtra and Dhāraṇī Literature.” Hidas’s essay focuses first on the ritual core of the Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtra, which represents the ritual establishment of the state’s protection as an act of mutual benefit to the Buddhist Sangha and the monarch. The essay then explores how this theme appears in some examples of dhāraṇī literature from the first half of the first millennium. It is shown that offering safeguard for rulers and their realms is a long-established practice in South Asian Buddhism, one that perdures up to modern times, while there have been a variety of incantation scriptures available for such purposes.

Chapter 11, by Nina Mirnig, is entitled “Adapting Śaiva Tantric Initiation for Exoteric Circles: Lokadharmiṇī Dīkṣā and Its History in Early Medieval Sources.” The article investigates the history and scope of usage of the term lokadharmiṇī dīkṣā, one of the most accessible and mainstream-conforming classes of Śaiva tantric initiation. In essence, this category denotes a form of initiation that allows the practitioner to maintain his exoteric register of religious practice (the lokadharma), in this context the brahmanical mainstream. As such, it is contrasted with the śivadharmiṇī dīkṣā, which operates on purely Śaiva ritual and soteriological premises. The terminology of the lokadharmiṇī dīkṣā was used in different initiation-classification schemes, reflecting differing and evolving ways of negotiating the interface between initiatory and exoteric practices among different Śaiva tantric groups throughout the early medieval period. By tracing the shifting history of the lokadharmiṇī dīkṣā terminology in pre-twelfth century Śaiva tantric sources, the article points to the complexities of interpretation of terminology relating to initiatory categories.

In chapter 12, John Nemec investigates “Innovation and Social Change in the Vale of Kashmir, circa 900–1250 C.E.” This essay addresses the nature of social and religious change by examining the ways in which they are negotiated in the writings of selected post-scriptural Śaiva authors of the Kashmir Valley. Nemec argues that the writings of Somānanda (ca. 900–950), Utpaladeva (ca. 925–975), Abhinavagupta (ca. 975–1025), and Jayaratha (early 13th C.E.) evince a self-consciously constructed, emic theory of scriptural authority and social conduct that exemplifies what the author contends should be taken as a maxim in the study of South Asian religions and religion more generally—namely, that change is not inimical to religion, even if particular religious agents are not infrequently inimical to change. Envisioning a layered hierarchy of authoritative scriptural sources, both Vedic and Tantric, these authors deemed otherwise proscribed religious and social practices permissible in their particular contexts; yet, because they promoted novel practices only as modifications to otherwise universally applicable social strictures, the changes they authorized were necessary incremental in nature, which Nemec suggests is in fact the normative pattern for social change in premodern South Asia. In doing so, he argues that the complex model of scriptural authority exemplified in this emic theory challenges Sheldon Pollock’s characterization of the relationship of theory (śāstra) to practice (prayoga) as monolithic and simple in premodern South Asia. The essay concludes by sketching the implications of this study for our understanding of Indian religions, and for religion tout court.

Chapter 13, by Bihani Sarkar, is entitled “Toward a history of the Navarātra, the autumnal festival of the Goddess.” This essay provides a chronological chart of the development of the Navarātra, the Nine Nights festival of the Goddess. Drawing on Sanderson’s work on the Orissan Mahānavamī traditions of Bhadrakālī and ritual descriptions outlined in Sanskrit sources, Sarkar identifies four phases in the trajectory of the Navarātra, as it grew into the pre-eminent political rite for authorizing and creating royal power. These were: an early Vaiṣṇava rite in the monsoon, its incorporation of a pre-established Brahmanical military tradition in Āśvina, its expansion into a ten day affair and inclusion of tantric rituals for powers (siddhis) in East India, and the growth later of the distinctive Southern and Western Navarātras. Tamil sources of uncertain date, however, add complexity to this picture.

Part 4 of this book contains six essays on various aspects of religious praxis, including yoga. In chapter 14, “Śārikā’s Mantra,” Jürgen Hanneder studies the tantric deity Śārikā, who is worshipped in the form of a large stone on the “Śārikā Peak” or Pradyumna Peak in Śrīnagar. Hanneder examines several ritual texts that describe the iconography and worship of this goddess, including her mantra. In the seventeenth century the Kashmirian author Sāhib Kaul wrote a Stotra devoted to Śārikā, in which her mantra is given in the style of a mantroddhāra, that is with code words, so that the “sounds” of the mantra need not be explicitly uttered. This chapter contains an edition and translation of this text and an analysis, which shows that Sāhib Kaul’s version of the mantra of Śārikā strangely fails to accord with most other sources of this mantra.

Chapter 15, by Diwakar Acharya, is entitled “The Kāmasiddhistuti of King Vatsarāja.” In this chapter, Acharya presents an edition and translation of the previously unpublished Śaiva Kāmasiddhistuti attributed to Mahārājādhirāja Vidyādharacakravartin Vatsarāja, who can perhaps be identified with King Vatsarāja of the Gurjara-Pratihāra dynasty (c. 775–805 A.D.), the father of Mahārājādhirāja Nāgabhaṭa II (805–833 A.D.). As a pūjāstuti, this text guides its reciter through the mental or actual worship of Goddess Nityā Sundarī, of whom the poet is a devotee. He invokes the goddess as Maheśvarī and Gaurī, but concedes that some call her Lakṣmī and Parā Prakṛti. As Acharya shows, the poet appears unaware of the systems of nine, eleven, or sixteen Nityās, which are worshipped in the traditions of the Nityākaula, Manthānabhairava, and Vāmakeśvara Tantras, respectively. Rather, the author is aware of only one Nityā, who is simply called Sundarī and is installed as Nityā Sundarī at the altar of worship in the centre of the maṇḍala, without a consort, independent and supreme.

Chapter 16, by Shaman Hatley, is entitled “The Lotus Garland (padmamālā) and Cord of Power (śaktitantu): The Brahmayāmala’s Integration of Inner and Outer Ritual.” This essay examines the relationship between “ritual” and “yoga” in the Brahmayāmala, a voluminous early tantra whose place in the history of Śaivism was first identified by Professor Sanderson (1988). The early history of Śaiva yoga remains inadequately studied, and foundational early sources such as the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā and Brahmayāmala diverge widely in their technical vocabulary and conceptions of the body. The focus of this essay is the explication of the Brahmayāmala’s manner of integrating inner and outer ritual processes, both of which have their basis in a system of Nine Lotuses and Nine Knots (granthi) strung together by the “cord of power” (śaktitantu, śaktisūtra). In analysing this unique system, the essay examines a number of key issues, including the role of visualization in ritual, mantra-installation (nyāsa), the body’s subtle channels (nāḍī) and knots (granthi), and shifting conceptions of the relationship between knowledge (jñāna) and ritual action (kriyā).

Chapter 17, by James Mallinson, is entitled “The Amṛtasiddhi: Haṭhayoga’s Tantric Buddhist Source Text.” The unpublished circa eleventh-century Amṛtasiddhi is the oldest text to teach any of the principles and practices that came to distinguish the haṭha method of yoga practice taught in later Vaiṣṇava and Śaiva manuals, such as the Dattātreyayogaśāstra and Haṭhapradīpikā. Many of its central teachings have no precedents in earlier texts: the yogic body with the moon situated at the top of the central channel dripping amṛta and the sun at its bottom consuming it; the three physical techniques that make up the text’s central practice (mahāmudrā, mahābandha and mahāvedha); the four stages of the practice (ārambha, ghaṭa, paricaya and niṣpatti); the principle that bindu or semen is the most important vital constituent and hence that its preservation is paramount; and the principle that the mind, breath and bindu are connected, so that controlling one controls the others. These are then repeated, often verbatim, in almost all subsequent haṭha texts. The Amṛtasiddhi has been the subject of only one previous study, an article by Kurtis Schaeffer (2004), which analyses the text as found in a bilingual (Sanskrit and Tibetan) manuscript that probably dates to the twelfth century CE. Schaeffer, because of some seemingly non-Buddhist teachings in the text, in particular those on jīvanmukti, understands it to be a Śaiva work. This paper, however, shows that some of its teachings are specifically Buddhist, and concludes that the text was composed in a Buddhist milieu and that later Indian and Nepalese manuscripts of the text either misunderstood its Buddhist features or deliberately removed or changed them.

Chapter 18, by Csaba Kiss, is entitled “A Sexual Ritual with Māyā in Matsyendrasaṃhitā 40.” The Matsyendrasaṃhitā, a 13th-century South Indian Kubjikā-Tripurā-oriented tantric yoga text of the Ṣaḍanvayaśāmbhava tradition, describes a unique sexual ritual in its 40th chapter. Kiss analyses sigificant ambiguities therein, in addition to providing an edition and annotated translation of the relevant passages. The chapter recommends that the yogin have sexual encounters with (human) yoginīs, while avoiding pāśavī (uninitiated?) women, but devotes most of its attention to a ritual with Māyā, a rather ambiguous female. Is she an imagined goddess (kuṇḍalinī?) or an uninitiated woman of low birth? Is the sexual act visualized or ‘real’? Kiss argues that these ambiguities may be deliberate. The ambiguity between actual sex and visualization reflects the tension between sexuality and asceticism manifest in the frame story of the Matsyendrasaṃhitā, a unique version of the legend of Matsyendra and Gorakṣa. While possibly echoing or quoting older tantric texts containing descriptions of sexual rituals, the redactors of the Matsyendrasaṃhitā were perhaps transitioning towards ascetic or brahmacarya-oriented teachings. As a result, Kiss argues, they came up with an obscure variant on the figure of the tantric yoginī: Māyā, first described as a phantom, resembling a goddess visualized in worship, then also takes part in an actual sexual ritual.

Chapter 19, by Jason Birch, is entitled “Haṭhayoga’s Floruit on the Eve of Colonialism.” The aim of this article is to provide a framework for examining the textual sources on Haṭhayoga that were composed from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. After a brief introduction to the early history of Haṭha- and Rājayoga, the main section of the article focuses on the salient features of the late literature on Haṭhayoga by dividing the texts into two categories; ‘extended works’ and ‘compendiums.’ The extended works expatiate on Haṭhayoga as it was formulated in the Haṭhapradīpikā, whereas the compendiums integrate teachings of Haṭhayoga within a discourse on yoga more generally conceived. Both etic categories include scholarly and practical works which, when read together in this way, reveal significant changes to the praxis and theory of Haṭhayoga on the eve of colonialism. The article concludes with a brief discussion on the regional distribution of the literature of Haṭhayoga during this period and how the codification of its praxis and theory appears to have diverged in different regions.

The papers of part 5 concern religious art and architecture. Chapter 20, by Libbie Mills, is entitled “The Early Śaiva Maṭha: Form and Function.” We are not told a great deal in the early Śaiva textual record about the practicalities of life inside the maṭha. In this chapter, Mills seeks to find a way into the topic by looking at the physical structure of the buildings. Drawing on materials that include instructions for building, the essay considers the designs given for the construction of the maṭha, and what those designs might tell us of what took place inside. The paper aims to add to the exploration of the maṭha treated to great effect by Tamara Sears.1

Chapter 21, by Ryugen Tanemura, concerns “The Kriyāsaṃgrahapañjikā of Kuladatta and its Parallels in the Śaiva Pratiṣṭhātantras.” As Sanderson demonstrates in “The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism During the Early Medieval Period” (2009), tantric Buddhism devised a number of ceremonies in the domain of public religion following the Śaiva models, such as consecration (pratiṣṭhā) and funeral rites (antyeṣṭi). Tantric Buddhist manuals called maṇḍalavidhis teach the details of these public social rituals. These manuals closely resemble the Śaiva Pratiṣṭhātantras and Paddhatis. Among these, the Kriyāsaṃgrahapañjikā of Kuladatta, most probably written in the Kathmandu valley in the eleventh century C.E., is particularly rich in information, as are also the Vajrāvalī of Abhayākaragupta and the Ācāryakriyāsamuccaya of Jagaddarpaṇa or Darpaṇācārya. The purpose of this paper is to present various Śaiva parallels in the Kriyāsaṃgrahapañjikā, especially textual parallels between the nimittokti section of the Kriyāsaṃgrahapañjikā and the Śalyoddhārapaṭala of the Devyāmata, a Śaiva Pratiṣṭhātantra. The relevant sections and chapters of these two texts concern the topic of how to find and remove extraneous substances (śalya) underground during the rituals in order to avoid the calamities which they may cause. Tanemura also presents as an appendix a preliminary edition and translation of a section of the Ācāryakriyāsamuccaya called Bhūśalyasūtrapātananimittavidhi; this also contains some parallels with the Kriyāsaṃgrahapañjikā and the Devyāmata.

Chapter 22, by Anthony Tribe, concerns “Mañjuśrī as Ādibuddha: The Identity of an Eight-armed Form of Mañjuśrī Found in Early Western Himalayan Buddhist Art in the Light of Three Nāmasaṃgīti-related Texts.” This chapter examines the identity of an eight-armed form of Mañjuśrī found in early western Himalayan Buddhist art (11th–13th centuries). This figure is found most prominently in the Sumtsek (Gsum-brtsegs, “Three-Storeyed”) temple at Achi, Ladakh where, as a mural, it is the central deity of a maṇḍala. Its position on the top storey, suggesting that it is the figure of highest status in the temple’s iconographic programme, has long puzzled scholars. Less well-known are two other examples of this figure: a mural in the chapel of the two-armed Maitreya at Mangyu, Ladakh, and a clay figure in the Golden Temple or Serkhang (Gser-khang) at Lalung, Spiti. Based on descriptions of the figure in three Nāmasaṃgīti-related texts—the Ākāśavimala of Mañjuśrīmitra, the *Sādhanaupayika (Sgrub pa’i thabs) of Agrabodhi, and the Nāmamantrārthāvalokinī of Vilāsavajra—Tribe argues that the figure should be identified as (Mañjuśrī in the form of) the Ādibuddha and not Mañjuśrī as a bodhisattva. The authors of these three texts comprise some of the earliest commentators on the Nāmasaṃgīti (also known as the Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti), and share a concern to promote Mañjuśrī by placing him, as the Ādibuddha, at the heart (both literally and metaphorically) of Mahāvairocana in an adaptation of the yogatantra Vajradhātu-mahāmaṇḍala.

Chapter 23, by Parul Dave-Mukherji, is entitled “Life and Afterlife of Sādṛśya: Revisiting the Citrasūtra through the Nationalism-Naturalism Debate in Indian Art History.” This essay revisits the Citrasūtra, a seminal section on painting from the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, in the light of key concerns around the cultural politics of art historiography, the śāstra-prayoga debate, and the related question of interpretative frames to study traditional Indian art. The last concern has lately come to the forefront in the context of postcolonial studies and global art history. If the former is critical of intellectual parasitism, the latter pushes postcolonial thought to explore ‘native’ interpretative frames to study pre-modern Indian art. This paper attempts to complicate the search for alternative frameworks by underlining gaps and slippages that surround the meaning of terms in the given text and their modern appropriation. To this end, it traces a genealogy of a term, sādṛśya, from the śilpaśāstric lexicon through its twentieth-century reception in art-historical discourse. How does a term acquire an afterlife when it enters into the force field of reinterpretation steeped in cultural nationalism? How would a newly ‘discovered’ Sanskrit text function in such a space? Dave-Mukherji also addresses a larger question: what is the genealogy of India’s cultural past, and specifically its “art,” as transcendental/idealistic/spiritual, which has translated itself into a belief? And why does this belief persist, although in different configurations? The essay then turns to alternative interpretative frames for the study of Indian art, first by critically examining ethnographic approaches to the study of texts, and then by relating Coomaraswamy’s transcendentalism with David Shulman’s recent discourse around the ‘more than real.’


Tamara I. Sears, Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings, Architecture and Asceticism in Medieval India (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014).

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Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions

Essays in Honour of Alexis G.J.S. Sanderson

Series:  Gonda Indological Studies, Volume: 22


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