Religions of South Asia 2022-12-24T01:31:21+00:00 Dermot Killingley, Anna King, Arkotong Longkumer & Karen O’Brien-Kop Open Journal Systems <p><em>RoSA</em> publishes papers by internationally respected scholars on some of the most vibrant and dynamic religious traditions of the world. It includes the latest research on distinctively South Asian or Indic religions - Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist and Sikh - religions which continue to influence the patterns of thought and ways of life of millions of people. <a href="">Learn more about this journal.</a></p> Guest Editorial 2022-11-02T15:50:01+00:00 Laxshmi Rose Greaves Simon Brodbeck 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. A Deferential Krsna 2022-11-02T16:11:51+00:00 Christopher R Austin <p>This paper examines the concluding scene (chapter 113) of the Harivamsa’s Krsna biography, in which Krsna tries to steal some cows, but then chooses not to. I argue that the episode should be understood first in connection with the Mahabharata’s amsavatarana frame of partial incarnations. Secondly, I bring to bear on Harivamsa 113 the multiple meanings of the cow in epic mythology, according to which the animal stands in for both the earth and the brahmin as paradigmatic objects of ksatriya protection. In so doing, I hope to provide a reading of Harivamsa 113 which illustrates its participation in a recurring epic theme of ksatriya transgression against the brahmin and subsequent retreat to a properly deferential position. I then historicize these bovine-encoded anxieties attending brahmin–ksatriya relations in their post-Mauryan context. Recognizing such themes at work in Harivamsa 113 can help us to see that, however much popular traditions may favour the playful and transgressive Krsna, his posture in the latter part of the Harivamsa is characterized by a complex conservatism informed by both historic and epic-mythological concerns.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Demonic and Demidivine Beauty in the Eyes of Demidivine and Demonic Beholders 2022-11-02T16:16:52+00:00 Shubha Pathak <p>The Ramayana and Mahabharata highlight the demidivine simian Hanumat and the part-demon prince Duryodhana differently experiencing their political enemies’ assembling halls as aesthetic and theological objects alike. Hanumat is seduced figuratively by the sensual pleasures of the personal hall (sala) of unrighteous Ravana (the demon king of Lanka and abductor of Ramayana hero Rama’s wife, Sita), but remains devoted to righteous Rama, half of divine preserver Visnu reborn. Duryodhana, however, covets the imposing heights of the professional hall (sabha) of his paternal cousin Yudhisthira (the demidivine king of Indraprastha and biological son of righteousness-divinity Dharma), and deploys unrighteous dicing gambits to depose the Mahabharata hero temporarily, having identified with a fellow follower of divine destroyer Siva, Sisupala, slain by his estranged maternal cousin—fractional Visnu incarnation Krsna. The Visnu-preferring epic authors give to Hanumat and Duryodhana, for their disparate theological commitments, diverging deserts. Whereas Hanumat lives long until merging with his originary wind-divinity, Duryodhana dies prematurely in battle and cycles eternally among different realms—beginning briefly in heaven and continuing extendedly in hell. By applying to both epic assembling-hall observers aesthetic philosopher Kendall L. Walton’s mimetic theory, this study illuminates the striking sectarian distinctions between contrasting poetic architectural depictions.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Who Was it Was Cursed by the First Sloka Verse? 2022-11-02T22:48:12+00:00 Simon Brodbeck <p>This article explores the scene in Ramayana 1.2 where a hunter kills a crane and Valmiki curses the hunter. The curse is explored as a stand-in for Valmiki’s composition and Rama’s education, prompted by Sita’s suffering at Valmiki’s ashram. The first half of the article discusses, but does not apportion, the blame for Sita’s abandonment. The second half discusses the blame for Sita’s suicide.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Lifting Brides/Lifting Enemies 2022-11-02T22:50:34+00:00 Roberto Morales-Harley <p>The paper examines four lifting scenes in the Mahabharata: (1) Bhisma lifting Amba, Ambika and Ambalika (1.96), (2) Arjuna lifting Subhadra (1.212), (3) Susarman lifting Virata / Bhima lifting Susarman (4.32), and (4) Arjuna lifting Uttara (4.36). Its main claim is that the bride abductions provide the key elements in terms of textual materials for the enemy ‘abductions’, which may then be seen as adaptations. This reading contributes to the understanding of some auctorial techniques within the Mahabharata, such as depictions of masculinity, comical reversals and self-references in general.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Obsolete Weapons in the Mahabharata 2022-11-02T22:54:02+00:00 Andrzej Babkiewicz Sven Sellmer <p>The paper deals with four weapons that appear in the Mahabharata, but are never, or only exceptionally, employed in real combat: plough (hala), wheel/disc (cakra), thunderbolt (vajra) and trident (trisula). In each case, an attempt to reconstruct the prehistory of the weapon is made, the textual and material evidence is examined, and a hypothesis is presented as to how the weapon was imagined by the authors and recipients of the epic.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. The Buddha in the ‘Wild West’ 2022-11-02T22:59:04+00:00 Max Deeg <p>The starting point of this article is the observation that three Jataka narratives, the Visvantara-jataka, the Syama-jataka and the Ekasrnga-/Rsyasrnga-jataka, localized in the ancient northwest Indian region of Gandhara by the Chinese Buddhist travellers Faxian, Song Yun and Xuanzang, have parallels in the epic Ramayana (and the latter two in the Mahabharata). The article analyses the different version of these narratives in the Buddhist and Hindu sources and their possible relation, and reaches the cautious conclusion that the localization of the Buddhist Jatakas in the northwest may have been a reaction to the popularization of the Ramayana in a full and mature form which included the narratives corresponding to the Buddhist Syama-jataka and Rsyasrnga-jataka in the more central parts of India in the Gupta period.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. The Art of Storytelling 2022-11-02T23:07:19+00:00 Laxshmi Rose Greaves <p>This article focuses on two exquisitely carved stone panels from Rajaona in Lakhisarai district, Bihar, depicting animated scenes from the Ramayana. The panels were first reported by Frederick Asher in 1986 and since his concise overview no further analysis has been forthcoming. This article seeks to identify the seven Ramayana episodes represented across the two panels and to analyse them within the broader context of early visual Ramayanas, and especially those from Bihar and Bengal. Contrary to what has previously been suggested, the scenes depicted are from the Yuddhakanda of the Ramayana, and of the seven parts, most comprise the earliest extant visual renderings of these stories. The panels have previously been dated to the Gupta period (c.319–550 ce) but following a stylistic analysis I propose instead an early post-Gupta date. This suggested dating conforms with the trajectory of Ramayana imagery in early India, which otherwise does not seem to have been adopted on temples in the eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent until the late sixth/early seventh century.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. When Blame Turns into Praise 2022-11-02T23:10:21+00:00 Suganya Anandakichenin <p>This article examines how Villiputturar’s fourteenth-century Paratam, the most important Tamil retelling of the Mahabharata, focuses on Sisupala’s tirade against Krsna at Yudhisthira’s sacrifice. This passage, which has fascinated many poets across the subcontinent over many centuries, is dealt with interestingly by Villiputturar, an erudite Srivaisnava scholar and possibly a court poet. While his knowledge of the Sanskrit texts clearly shows in his verses, there is also something very peculiar in his treatment of Sisupala and his speech that is unique, and which could be the result of the Alvars’, and perhaps even the Srivaisnava Acaryas’, compositions. This article will examine the words of Villiputturar’s Sisupala in light of a selection of texts, and will also assess his impact on the later Tamil poets, notably on the two poets who rendered the Bhagavatapurana into the vernacular language barely a century or two later.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Some Illustrated Valmiki Ramayana Manuscripts 2022-11-02T23:14:13+00:00 John Brockington <p>The many manuscripts of the various versions of the Ramayana include a much smaller number of illustrated manuscripts, besides the frequent sets or series illustrating the Rama story (often termed manuscripts, though lacking more than a caption or brief description of the scene depicted). I focus here on a small number of illustrated manuscripts of the Valmuki Ramayana: one datable around 1605–19 in sub-imperial Mughal style commissioned by Bir Singh Deo, one dated between 1649 and 1653 for Jagat Singh of Mewar, and three sets of illustrations which seem intended to form between them a third illustrated manuscript: the small Guler and Mankot Ramayanas and Manaku’s ‘Siege of Lanka’ series, from about 1710 to 1725. The issues that I address are: why were such extensive and expensive manuscripts undertaken, what was the nature of the text copied, and what is the relationship of text to illustration, in terms of how a scene is illustrated and of its correct identification? Exploration of these issues can reveal a significant amount about the patrons, the scribes, the illuminators and the society of the period when such manuscripts were produced.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Holst’s Savitri Libretto 2022-11-02T23:23:27+00:00 Simon Brodbeck <p>This article focuses on the libretto (the words) of Gustav Holst’s one-act opera Savitri (opus 25, 1908), which is based on a story told in the Mahabharata. The article introduces Holst’s Savitri project biographically in the context of his love of India. It explores the question of what sources Holst used in preparing his libretto. It discusses Holst’s main departures from his source text(s): his removal of the <br />framing story, his featuring of the character Satyavan, and his introduction of the topic of maya. Historical reasons for Holst’s interest in maya are briefly explored. Finally, the article places Holst’s Savitri in the context of operatic history, reading it as a version of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Tantra, Ritual, Performance and Politics in Nepal and Kerala: Embodying the Goddess Clan, by Matthew Martin 2022-11-02T23:27:07+00:00 Lucy May Constantini <p>Tantra, Ritual, Performance and Politics in Nepal and Kerala: Embodying the Goddess Clan, by Matthew Martin. Leiden: Brill, 2020. 265 pp., €124.00/$149.00. ISBN 978-9-00-443899-6.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Ownership and Inheritance in Sanskrit Jurisprudence, by Christopher T. Fleming 2022-11-02T23:30:07+00:00 Werner Menski Raja Choudhary <p>Ownership and Inheritance in Sanskrit Jurisprudence, by Christopher T. Fleming. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. xvi + 252 pp., £65 (hb). ISBN 978-0-19-885237-7 (hb).</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Alchi: Treasure of the Himalayas, by Peter van Ham, Amy Heller and Likir Monastery 2022-11-02T23:33:47+00:00 Archishman Sarker <p>Alchi: Treasure of the Himalayas, by Peter van Ham, Amy Heller and Likir Monastery. Munich: Hirmer Verlag and Alchi: Alchi Gömpa, 2018. 422 pp., £46. ISBN 978-3-77-743093-5.</p> 2022-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Equinox Publishing Ltd.