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Ideology and Status of Sanskrit

Contributions to the History of the Sanskrit Language


Edited by Jan Houben

The present volume is the outcome of a seminar on the Ideology and Status of Sanskrit held in Leiden under the auspices of the International Institute for Asian Studies. The book contains studies of crucial periods and important areas in the history of the Sanskrit language, from the earliest, Vedic and pre-Vedic periods, through the period in which the (restricted) use of Sanskrit spread over practically all of South (including part of Central) and Southeast Asia (sometimes referred to as the period of "Greater India"), up to the recent history of Sanskrit in India.
The contributions of this volume are divided into three sections: (1) Origins and Creation of the "Eternal Language"; (2) Transculturation, Vernacularization, Sanskritization; (3) The Sanskrit Tradition: Continuity from the past or Construction from the present?


Gudrun Bühnemann

Volume I: The Pantheon of the Mantramahodadhi focuses on the iconography of 108 deities described in the sixteenth-century Mantramahodadhi, which addresses topics related to Tantra, and specifically mantraśāstra, like the function and structure of the deity descriptions ( dhyāna) and the interpretations given to the iconographic attributes. All the deities are presented separately and each entry includes the Sanskrit text in transliteration, a literal translation and notes on the iconography, including information from other Sanskrit texts. With line drawings.
Volume II: The Pantheons of the Prapañcasāra and the Śāradātilaka compares for the first time deity descriptions extracted from different printed editions of two earlier texts, the anonymous Prapañcasāra (c. 10th century) and the Śāradātilaka (c. 10th-11th centuries). The Sanksrit text is presented with a literal translation and remarks on the iconography. A new edition and translation of important chapters (cosmogony and yoga) of the Śāradātilaka is included as appendix. With illustrations.

Kāvya in South India

Old Tamil Caṅkam Poetry


Herman Tieken

Old Tamil Caṅkam poetry consists of eight anthologies of short poems on love and war, and a treatise on grammar and poetics. The main part of this corpus has generally been dated to the first centuries AD and is believed to be the product of a native Tamil culture.

The present study argues that the poems do not describe a contemporary society but a society from the past or one not yet affected by North-Indian Sanskrit culture. Consequently the main argument for the current early dating of Caṅkam poetry is no longer valid. Furthermore, on the basis of a study of the historical setting of the heroic poems and of the role of Tamil as a literary language in the Caṅkam corpus, it is argued that the poetic tradition was developed by the Pāṇṭiyas in the ninth or tenth century.

This volume deals with the identification of the various genres of Caṅkam poetry with literary types from the Sanskrit Kāvya tradition. Counterparts have been found exclusively among Prākrit and Apabhraṁśa texts, which indicate that in Caṅkam poetry Tamil has been specifically assigned the role of a Prākrit. As such, the present study reveals the processes and attitudes involved in the development of a vernacular language into a literary idiom.



Although the number of hymns composed in honour of the most popular member of the Vedic pantheon is nearly one- fourth of the total, a monograph on this important collection of religious poetry has up to now never been published.
It has been the author's endeavour to ascertain and examine all relevant facts concerning their structure, the contents and composition of essential constituent parts of the hymns.
Further, this study tries to understand how the poets presented their subject-matter and elaborated their themes; to illustrate by numerous (translated) quotations the character of their elements (praise, prayer, and references to sacrifices); to investigate how far these are kept separate; to examine numerous stylistic and phraseological particulars, and the various peculiarities of their versification as well as the syntactic aspects of this poetry.


A. M. Dubianski

This volume focuses on the origin of the early Tamil poetical canon, which constitutes a set of specific subjects, images, principles of arrangement of basic poetical themes which are called tiṇai. The author proceeds from the idea of a Russian scholar O. Freidenberg that literary forms ‘originate from anti-literary material rather than their own archetypes’.

An outline of mythological concepts, prevalent in ancient Tamil culture, is presented, alongside main mythological figures - Murukaṉ, Māl, Cūr, Koṟṟavai, Vaḷḷi. A controversial notion of aṉanku, especially in its aspect of an inner female energy, is analyzed. In addition, the author explores the panegyric art of the Tamil kings’ singers, describing such singers and performers while discussing the idea of ritual character.

The elements of five canonical tiṇai-themes of the akam poetry are examined, where the use of ethnological data suggests that the themes are based on some behaviour patterns which are meant to ensure a reliable control over the female energy. Finally, the text raises the problem of earlier poetic forms that consolidated the tiṇai system.

Aspects of Indian Art

Papers Presented in a Symposium at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 1970

Edited by Pal

Selected Studies of Jan Gonda, Volume 5 Indonesian Linguistics

Presented to the Author by the Staff of the Oriental Institute, Utrecht University, on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday