Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 2012 - 22,1-4
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society / editor: Sarah Ansari [u.a.]. - Third Series. - Vol. 22. - Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2012
ISSN 1356-1863 (Printausgabe)
ISSN 1474-0591 (Online-Ausgabe)
Abstract: This collection of essays focuses on the history, literary culture and legacy of the Paramāra dynasty. Ruling from central India, with collateral branches of the family at Candrāvatī, Vāgaḍa, Bhinmāl and Jālor, the Paramāras constituted an important force in the Indian medieval world. They flourished between the tenth and twelfth centuries and throughout their history entertained high political ambitions. In particular Vākpati Muñja (circa 973–95) and Bhoja (circa 1000–55) undertook military campaigns that sought to establish the Paramāras as a paramount power in India. Although frustrated in these aims, they are remembered nonetheless as a great dynasty, representative if not paradigmatic of the vibrant civilisation of the late medieval age.
Abstract: Colonial scholars and administrators in the latter half of the nineteenth century were the first to subject South Asia to modern historicist scrutiny. Using coins, inscriptions, and chronicles, they determined the dates and identities of numerous kings and dynasties within an apparently scrupulous empiricist framework. From the 1930s, with the widespread rise of nationalist sentiment, South Asian scholars began to write about their own past. The particular configurations of colonial and early nationalist historiography of South Asia have proved immensely consequential for subsequent generations of historians. Not only did this historiography value certain types of evidence, particularly Indic language epigraphy, Persian chronicles, and archaeology (while at the same time devaluing others like literature and religious texts), it set some of the enduring thematic and topical parameters which have shaped the course of the field. The initial focus was on the careers and personalities of rulers or the genius of races as the key causative forces in history, but eventually dynastic history became the dominant mode of writing about the past.
Abstract: The opening essay in this special issue by Daud Ali surveys the historiography of the medieval and touches on some of the key problems of interpretation and periodisation in Indian history. However, Ali's paper does not address the Paramāras of central India and their part in building a strong kingdom in the heart of the country for several centuries. Because an introduction to the dynasty's history is essential for situating the articles that follow, this paper will survey the leading role played by the Paramāras in the history of India over the four hundred years of their political existence. This paper also provides an opportunity to contextualise the three Royal Asiatic Society copper-plates of the Paramāra dynasty now kept in the British Museum; they are illustrated in the pages that follow (Figs 1–3).
Abstract: In the course of a field-survey of Paramāra sites in 2008–09, I was exploring locations with historic inscriptions, temples, memorial stones and medieval water systems. Of particular interest were places with antique statuary of Hanumān because he was a protector of the fields and thus played a role in agricultural production. Udaypur, a key Paramāra site with the well-known Śiva temple built by Udayāditya, naturally formed part of the study. When enquiries about Hanumān were made at Udaypur, local residents urged us to visit Muratpur, a village about 5 kilometres directly south. We set out in that direction, making a series of discoveries along the way. The various memorial pillars, ruins and other remains cannot be recorded here in detail. Perhaps the most startling discovery (more correctly a re-discovery) was a colossal figure of dancing Śiva, more that 2 metres high. The figure lies on its back and, to judge from the chisel marks on it, was never finished (Fig. 1). This joins the catalogue of monumental but unfinished work by the Paramāras. The temple of Bhojpur is the most famous example, but in this special issue attention has been drawn by O. P. Mishra to the fact that the Bijamaṇḍal at Vidiśā was also left unfinished by Naravarman.
Abstract: The Samarāṅganasūtradhāra is an encyclopedic work, attributed by tradition to King Bhoja of the Paramāra dynasty. It collects a vast number of subjects under the general heading of vāstu, a term that refers to a dwelling or dwelling place and, by inclusion, comes to treat the many activities connected with dwellings and construction sites. Although probably incomplete in the available manuscripts, the size of the Samarāṅganasūtradhāra remains impressive: including the ‘interpolated section’ it runs for almost 7,500 Sanskrit verses. The various portions resemble, in turn, a Purāṇa, a treatise on architecture, a disquisition into dramaturgic detail and much more. Bhoja's work can be classified as belonging to the ‘northern’ Vāstu tradition; the text presents itself as such, by tracing its own origin to the divine architect Viśvakarman rather than Maya, as a southern text would do. Nevertheless, the Samarāṅganasūtradhāra contains an extensive treatment of southern temple types.
Abstract: Towards the end of the eleventh chapter of the Śṛṅgāraprakāśa, there is an aside in gāthās that surveys the genres that king Bhoja accepts as constituting the complete range of literary form. The passage is long, 14 pages in Raghavan's edition, and gives us some idea of the unusual flavour of the Śṛṅgāraprakāśa as a whole. Much of it is taken over en bloc from the Nāṭyaśāstra's eighteenth adhyāya, although with considerable reorganisation and occasional rewriting by Bhoja to account for the spectrum of forms said to be prekṣya ‘visible’ or abhineya ‘performable’. When the text next moves to the anabhineya or ‘non-performable’ types (that is, what other genre surveys, following Kāvyādarśa 1: 39, would call śravyakāvya), Bhoja composes his own verses, though continuing in a very similar style to the old Bhāratīya gāthās, to account for the rest of his typology.
Abstract: The Tilakamañjarī, Dhanapāla's poem in prose (gadyakāvya) is one of the masterpieces of classical Sanskrit literature and deserves to be better known. What he says in one of the introductory verses about his contemporary audience is also true about the readers of our time: “People, smelling danger, turn away from prose which contains a forest of unbroken lines (i.e. compounds filling whole lines) and lots of descriptions, as they keep away from the many-coloured tiger which lives in the dense Daṇḍaka forest”. Although Dhanapāla shows more restraint in his descriptions and in the use of alliteration and long compounds than his illustrious predecessor Bāṇa, the extremely intricate plot of the Tilakamañjarī might discourage those who otherwise appreciate Sanskrit poetry. I am certain, however, that once a taste for gadyakāvya is acquired all these deterring factors turn into sources of delight.
Abstract: This copperplate charter of Raṇasiṃha came to my attention in the spring of 2008 when I was asked to study and translate the inscription. The plates are presently in a private collection and the direct study of the inscription has not been possible. Nonetheless, good quality digital photographs of the plates were made available to me and these form the basis of the present article.
Abstract: On the edge of the old city of Vidiśā are the ruins of a large temple known as the Bijamaṇḍal. Only the plinth of the temple survives (Fig. 1). On top of the plinth, on the western side, is a small mosque which was constructed in the fifteenth century to judge from the design of the miḥrāb. The pillars used in the prayer-hall are of various sizes and dates and have not been studied comprehensively. One pillar is notable as it carries an inscription of Naravarman, the Paramāra king who ruled from circa ce 1094 to 1134. A study of the inscription and the pillar on which it is carved provides a point of departure for considering several important questions about the dedication and history of the Bijamaṇḍal. The inscription also draws our attention to the tutelary goddesses of the Paramāra kings, a subject unstudied hitherto.
Abstract: On the ancient ramparts of the city of Dhār, overlooking the moat, is the tomb of a saint called Shaykh Changāl (Fig. 1). The tomb has been rebuilt in recent times, but stands on a high stone platform dating to the fifteenth century. The long staircase up to the tomb has two arched gates. A Persian inscription is placed in the upper gate over the door and is protected nowadays by a metal door. Written in forty-two verses, it is dated ah 859/ 1454–55. The verses were composed in the reign of the Maḥmūd Shāh Khaljī, the Sultan of Mālwā from 1436 to 1469. The purpose of this essay is to provide the text of this inscription with a new translation and commentary.
Abstract: The sixth to twelfth centuries of the common era were marked by intense religious activity in all parts of India. In the Paramāra kingdom – the main focus of the articles in this special issue – the dominant religious forces were Jainism and the Śaiva traditions of Hinduism. While Buddhism was certainly present in central India, archaeological remains, inscriptions and post-medieval narratives suggest its role was much diminished compared to the early historic period. In substantial contrast, Buddhism remained a vibrant force in eastern India. Bodhgayā, as the site of the Buddha's enlightenment, had emerged as a sacred place by the time of Aśoka in the third century BCE and it evolved subsequently into one of the key centres of the Buddhist world. This importance is attested by existing remains at the site, including the Mahābodhi temple, monastic ruins and innumerable sculptures from medieval times.
Abstract: This article identifies three Khotanese fragments in the British Library – IOL Khot 25/4, IOL Khot 147/5 (H. 147 NS 106) and Khot missing frags. 3 – as Agrapradīpadhāraṇī, Mahāvaipulya-buddha-Avataṃsaka-sūtra-acintya-visaya-pradesa and Hastikakṣyā, since their parallels have been found in the Chinese canon. The first identification adds one more dhāraṇī text to the current Khotanese Buddhist corpus. The second identification provides a better understanding of the Buddhist connection between Khotan and Central China. The Chinese version was translated by a Khotanese monk named Devendraprajña. The second identification indicates that the text Hastikakṣyā has a Khotanese translation, in addition to a Sanskrit version and two Chinese translations. In sum, this article sheds new light on Buddhist literature in Khotanese and its connection with Buddhist literature in Chinese.
Abstract: This article provides new perspectives in interpreting the sartorial codes present in Orientalist portraits of European subjects. Art historians have traditionally implicated these works in the European imperialist project of appropriating, manipulating, and gaining mastery over the Orient. More recently, as part of a wider effort to challenge conventional portrayals of colonial encounters in purely confrontational, monolithic terms, portraits of Europeans in exotic dress have been seen as visual proof that certain Europeans may have ‘crossed-over’ or ‘gone-native’. This article advances a third perspective. Analysing several portraits of Europeans with Indian connections during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it demonstrates the importance of analysing portraiture as an act of public performance. It shows that, in many cases, the performance of both artist and sitter alike were not intended for the colonial population, but for the spectators of colonialism situated ‘back home’ in Europe. Applying this new analytical approach to such an important and extensive genre of sources has far reaching implications both within the field of art history as well as within the broader domains of colonial history and contemporary East–West cultural studies. The interpretation of Western portrayals of the Orient – both visual and literary, both historical and contemporary – as active participants in an imperialist ideology must not eclipse the other, potentially less-charged, varied, and complex motivations of their participants.
Abstract: This article considers British agitation against East India Company rule in India via an examination of the Aborigines Protection Society and the British India Society. Founded by humanitarians and moral reformers in the 1830s, these organisations placed India within a wide transnational context, which stretched from Britain's settler and plantation colonies to Liberia and the United States. However, in the wake of slave emancipation, British campaigners struggled to reconcile their universal understanding of humanity with their equally strong confidence in the benefits of ‘British civilisation’. Their nebulous and changeable programmes for reform failed to convince Britain's politicians and public that the challenges of free trade could be met by the exclusive use of free labour, or that all imperial subjects possessed equal rights. A fuller appreciation of these campaigns reveals the contradictions and occlusions inherent in mid-nineteenth century humanitarianism, and underscores the importance of a more geographically integrated approach to the history of opposition to Britain's empire.
Abstract: The autumnal Durgā Pūjā, the ten-lunar-day worship of the goddess Durgā, also known as Caṇḍī or Caṇḍīkā, is one of the most important festivals in East India and Nepal. Throughout villages and cities in Bengal, Orissa, Assam and the Kathmandu Valley the occasion is marked by pomp and circumstance. In Bengal especially, this worship is a reflection of a culture that has given goddesses a privileged position over male deities from at least the time of the Pālas. However, despite the availability of material from the eighteenth century to the present day, the worship of the goddess prior to the colonial presence still remains to a great extent terra incognita. Sanskrit paddhatis (ritual manuals) from the medieval era are among the few records available from Bengal that shed light on the pedagogical and performative context of the rite. The purpose of this article is to provide a synchronic sketch of the medieval ceremony based on the influential and widely cited medieval manual, the Durgāpūjātattva (“The truth concerning the rite of Durgā”, henceforth DPT) of Raghunandana Bhaṭṭācārya (1520–1575 ce) supported by parallel accounts of the rite contained in related literature. The sketch will be used as a broad framework to illustrate the manner in which the ceremony was performed or could have been performed in Bengal during the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries CE.
Abstract: Kalīlah wa Dimnah, a compendium of individual tales and short stories, is a very well-known Middle Eastern literary work. Although it can not match the popularity of the ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ , it is nevertheless sufficiently well known to have attracted scholarly interest for decades. As a result, a considerable volume of scholarly writing has been produced regarding its origin and importance.
This article focuses on the origin of one story in the work, the trial of Dimnah. Since the Indian original is missing, accepted wisdom attributes the writing of this story to its first Arabic translator, Ibn al-Muqaffac. Although I do not challenge this view, I argue that there could be an Urtext in Middle Persian which was later rewritten by the famous translator. In what follows, this article provides evidence for this hypothesis from what at first glance might be considered a surprising perspective – Sasanian legal history.
Abstract: This article first briefly examines the textual structure of the Sakka Saṃyutta of the Pāli Saṃyutta-nikāya in conjunction with two other versions preserved in Chinese translation in Taishō vol. 2, nos 99 and 100. Then it compares the main teachings contained in the three versions. These three versions of this collection on the subject of Śakra, ruler of the gods, represent three different early Buddhist schools within the Sthavira branch. This comparative study of these three different versions focuses on some shared images of Śakra and on disagreements of some teachings presented in the three versions. It reveals similarities and significant differences in structure and doctrinal content, thus advancing the historical/critical study of early Buddhist doctrine in this area.