Cultic Relationships Between Buddhism and Brahmanism in the ‘Last Stronghold’ of Indian Buddhism
An Analysis with Particular Reference to Votive Inscriptions on the Brahmanical Sculptures Donated to Buddhist Religious Centres in Early Medieval Magadha
Keywords:Late Indian Buddhism, Brahmanism, Buddhist sculptures, Brahmanical Scriptures, Magadha
In this article, an attempt has been made to understand the patterns of cultic relationships between Buddhism and Brahmanism through the prism of dedicatory inscriptions on the Brahmanical sculptures donated to Buddhist religious centres in early medieval Magadha. I have looked into the social background of the donors and the expressed motives for donation of such images. I have argued that the Buddhist Sangha accepted the donation of Brahmanical sculptures to effect a mandalic appropriation of Brahmanical cults to Buddhism, though this does not seem to have been how the donors saw it. In the process, it exposed its own flank to a counter-appropriation by Brahmanism.
Ahir, D.C. 2005. Buddhism Declined in India: How and Why. Delhi: B.R. Publishers.
Amar, A.S. 2012. ‘Buddhist Responses to Brahmana Challenges in Medieval India: Bodhgaya and Gaya’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series 22(1): 155–185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1356186311000769
Asher, Frederick M. 1980. The Art of Eastern India, 300–800. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Banerji-Sastri, Ananta Prasad. 1940. ‘Ninety Three Inscriptions on the Kurkihar Bronzes’. Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society 26(3): 236–251.
Basu, Chandreyi. 2006. ‘Patronage and Representation at the Huvishka Vihara, A Kusana Period Buddhist Monastery’. Studies in History 22(2): 157–179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/025764300602200201
Bautze-Picron, Claudine. 1996. ‘From God to Demon, from Demon to God: Brahma and Other Brahmanical Divinities in the Late Buddhist Art of Eastern India’. Journal of Bengal Art 1: 109–135.
Bautze-Picron, Claudine. 1998. The Art of Eastern India in the Collection of the Museum Für Indische Kurst, Berlin: Stone and Terracotta Sculptures. Berlin: D.R. Verlag.
Bhattacharya, G. 2000a. ‘Notes on Three Inscribed Buddhist Sculptures’. In his Essays on Buddhist Hindu Jaina Iconography and Epigraphy, 51–60. Dhaka: The International Centre for Study of Bengal Art.
———. 2000b. ‘Dana-Deyadharma: Donations in Early Buddhist Records (In Brahmi)’. In his Essays on Buddhist Hindu Jaina Iconography and Epigraphy, 385–406. Dhaka: The International Centre for Study of Bengal Art.
Chakrabarti, Kunal. 2001. Religious Process: The Puranas and the Making of a Regional Tradition. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Chatterji, Rama. 1985. Religion in Bengal during Pala and Sena Times: Mainly on the Basis of Epigraphic and Archaeological Sources. Calcutta: Punthi Pustaka.
Cohen, Richard S. 1998. ‘Naga, Yakshini, the Buddha: Local Deities and Local Buddhism at Ajanta’. History of Religions 37(4): 360–400. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/463514
Cousins, L.S. 2003. ‘Sakiyabhikkhu/Sakyabhikkhu/Sakyabhiksu: A Mistaken Link to the Mahayana ?’. Nagoya Studies in Indian Culture and Buddhism 23: 1–27.
Cunningham, A. 1892. Mahabodhi or the Great Buddhist Temple under the Bodhi Tree at BuddhaGaya. London: W.H.Allen.
Dehejia, Vidya. 1992. ‘The Collective and Popular Basis of Early Buddhist Patronage: Sacred Monuments, BC 100–AD 250’. In The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture, edited by Barabara S. Miller, 35–50. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Decoroli, Robert. 2004. Haunting the Buddha: Indian Popular Religions and the Formation of Buddhism. New York: Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195168380.001.0001
Gellner, David N. 2003. The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism, Weberian Themes. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Ghosh, A. 1939–1940. ‘A Bronze image Inscription from Nalanda’. Epigraphia Indica 25: 334–335.
Gupta, P.L. 1965. Patna Museum Catalogue of Antiquities. Patna: Patna Museum.
Holt, John Clifford. 2005. The Buddhist Visnu: Religious Transformation, Politics and Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.
Huntington, Susan L. 1984.The ‘ Pala-Sena’ School of Sculptures. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
Kim, J.2012. ‘Unheard Voices: Women’s Roles in Medieval Buddhist Artistic Production and Religious Practices in South Asia’. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80(1): 200–232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfr103
Lahiri, Nayanjot and Bacus, Elisabeth A. 2004. ‘Exploring the Archaeology of Hinduism’. World Archaeology 36(3): 313–325. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00438240420000282768
Linrothe, Rob. 1997. ‘Beyond Sectarianism: Towards Reinterpreting the Iconography of Esoteric Buddhist Deities Trampling on Hindu Gods’. In Art, Archaeology and Culture of Eastern India, Dr. B. S. Verma Felicitation Volume, edited by C.P. Sinha, 193–88. Patna: Bihar Puravida Parishada.
Mishra, Umakant. 2009. ‘Imitation or Syncretism or Selective Appropriation? Studying Religious Equations between Brahmanical Religions and Buddhism in the Polyreligious Landscape of Early Medieval Orissa. Lokaratna: an E-folklore Journal, 65–85.
———. 2009a. Vajrayana Buddhism: Study in Social Iconography. Delhi: Pratibha Prakashan.
Mitra, R.C. 1954. The Decline of Buddhism in India. Calcutta: Vishva Bharati Studies.
Mitra, R.L.1880. ‘Transcripts and Translations of Two Inscriptions from Buddha-Gaya’. Asiatic Society of Bengal Proceedings, 76–80.
Mukherji, R.R. and S.K. Maity. 1967. Corpus of Bengal Inscriptions Bearing on History and Civilisation of Bengal. Calcutta: Firma KLM.
Omvedt, Gail. 2003. Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste. Delhi: Sage.
Patil, D.R.1963. The Antiquarian Remains of Bihar. Patna: K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute.
Prasad, Birendra Nath. 2006. Dilemmas of Revival of Buddhism in India (A combined Review of Gail Omvedt, Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste,Delhi,2003, and D.C. Ahir, Buddhism Declined in India: How and Why, Delhi,2005). Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies Varanasi: 171–175.
———. 2008. ‘MajorTrends and Perspectives in Studies in the Functional Dimensions of Indian Monastic Buddhism in the Past One Hundred Years: A Historiographical Survey’. Buddhist Studies Review 25(1): 54–89. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/bsrv. v25i1.54
———. 2008a. ‘Monarchs, Monasteries and Trade on an ‘Agrarian Frontier’: Early Medieval Samatata-Harikela, Bangladesh’. South and Southeast Asia: Culture and Religion, Journal of the South and South-East Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion 3: 160–77. Reprinted in Prasad 2011: 116–136.
———. 2009. ‘The “Hindu Buddha” and the “Buddhist Visnu”: Divergent Trends in Buddhist Encounters with Brahmanism’ (A combined Review of Allen Trevithick, The Revival of Buddhist Pilgrimage at Bodh Gaya: Anagaraika Dhammapala and the Mahabodhi Temple, Delhi, 2006; and John Clifford Holt, The Buddhist Visnu: Religious Transformation, Politics and Culture,Columbia University Press, 2005). Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies Varanasi: 189–194.
———. 2010. ‘Votive Inscriptions on the Sculptures of Early Medieval Samatata–Harikela: Explorations in Socio-religious History’. Religions of South Asia 4(1): 27–43.
———. 2010a. ‘Votive inscriptions on the Sculptures of Early Medieval Anga, South Bihar: Explorations in Socio-religious History’. Paper presented at the International Conference of Indian Association for Buddhist Studies. Ahmadabad, September 17–20, 2010.
———. 2010b. ‘Patronage and Societal Linkages: Buddhist Monasteries in Early Medieval Bihar and Bengal’. Paper presented at the International Conference on Buddhist Heritage—Gujarat, 15–17 January, M. S. University, Vadodara.
———. 2010c. ‘Nalanda Mahavihara in its Archaeological Landscape: Archaeology of Religious Transformation in Early Medieval Bihar’. Paper presented at the Twentieth World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, University of Toronto, 15–21 August 2010.
———. (ed. with an Introduction). 2011. Monasteries, Shrines and Society: Buddhist and Brahmanical Religious Institutions in India in their Socio-Economic Context. Delhi: Manak Publications.
———. 2012. ‘Brahmanical Temples, Mathas, Agraharas and a Buddhist Establishment in a Marshy and Forested Periphery of Two “Frontier” States: Early Mediaeval Surma Valley (Sylhet and Cachar), c. 600 CE–1100 CE’. Religions of South Asia 6(1): 33–60.
———. 2013. ‘Rethinking the Decline of Buddhism in the Nalanda Area: An Analysis in the Light of Some Recently Discovered Sculptures’. Paper presented at the 10th International Congress of Bengal Art, Patna, February 21–24, 2013.
———. 2013a ‘Patterns of Donation of the Sculptures of the Crowned Buddha at Kurkihar: A Note’. Paper accepted for publication in Dr. P. Gupta Felicitation Volume, edited by C.P. Sinha and U.C. Dwivedi. Patna (forthcoming).
———. 2013b. Inscriptions on the Sculptures of Aparajita from Early Medieval Magadha: Explorations in Socio-Religious History. Paper accepted for publication in Aitih, Journal of Dept. of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, edited by Prof. A.K.Sinha. M.J.P. Rohilkhand University, Bareli (forthcoming).
———. 2013c. Social Bases of Patronage to the Cult of the Astamahapratiharya in the Early Medieval Nalanda Area: An Epigraphic Enquiry. Paper accepted for publication in Prof. Sacchidananda Sahai Felicitation Volume, edited by Dr. C.P. Sinha, (forthcoming).
———. 2013d. ‘A Folk Tradition Integrated into Mahayana Buddhism: Some Observations on the Votive Inscriptions on the Sculptures of Pundesvari/Purnesvari/Punyesvari Discovered in the Kiul-Lakhisarai area, Bihar’. Paper accepted for publication in Berlin Indological Studies, Vol. 21, edited by G. Mevvissen, (forthcoming).
Prasad, Birendra Nath et al. 2009. ‘Bara: A Recently Discovered Site in Nalanda District and its Bearings on the Decline of Indian Buddhism’ in The Ocean of Buddhist Wisdom, edited by B.Labh, vol. 4: 225–234. Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation.
Roy, Kumkum. 1988. ‘Women and Men Donors at Sanchi: A Study of the Inscriptional Evidence’. In Position and Status of Women in Ancient India, edited by L.K.Tripathy, 209–223. Banaras Hindu University: Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology.
Sarao, K.T.S. 2012. The Decline of Buddhism in India: A Fresh Perspective. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
Schopen, Gregory. 1979. ‘Mahayana in Indian Inscriptions’. Indo-Iranian Journal 21: 1–19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/000000079790080299
———. 1984. ‘Filial Piety and the Monk in the Practice of Indian Buddhism: A Question of “Sinicization” Viewed from the Other Side’. T’oung Pao, Second Series, 70, Livr. 1(3): 110–126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/156853284X00044
———. 1987. ‘The Inscription on the Kusan Image of Amitabha and the Character of Early Mahayana in India’. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 10: 99–137.
———. 1988–1989. ‘On Monks, Nuns and “Vulgar” Practices: The Introduction of the Image Cult into Indian Buddhism’. Artibus Asiae 49(1/2):153–168. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3250049
———. 2005. Figments and Fragments of Mahayana Buddhism in India: More Collected Papers. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Shastri, H. 1942. Nalanda and Its Epigraphic Material, Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 66. Delhi: Manager of Publications.
Singh, Upinder. 1996. ‘Sanchi: The History of Patronage of an Ancient Buddhist Establishment’. Indian Economic and Social History Review 33(1): 1–35. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/001946469603300101
Thapar, Romila. 1992. ‘Patronage and Community’. In The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture, edited by Barbara S. Miller, 19–34. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Verardi, G. 2011. Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India. Delhi: Manohar.
Shaw, J. 2004. ‘Naga Sculptures in Sanchi’s Archaeological Landscape: Buddhism, Vaisnavism and Local Agricultural Cults in Central India, First Century BCE to Fifth Century CE’. Artibus Asiae 64(1): 5–59.
Wink, Andre. 1999. Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, vol. II. Delhi: Oxford University Press.