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Lectures by dr himanshu prabha ray

Creating Religious Identity: The Archaeology of Early Temples in the Malaprabha Valley

Shivdasani Conference 2007
20 Oct 2007

Session 2 of the 2007 Shivdasani Conference.The spectacular temple complexes of Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal located along the 25 kilometre long fertile valley of the Malaprabha river, (a tributary of the Krishna) in Bagalkot district have long been admired for their distinctive Karn Dravida architectural tradition and sculptural exuberance. It was along the Malaprabha river in north Karnataka that Pulakesi I established his capital at Vatapi or present Badami and built a fort on top of the sandstone cliff in c. 543 A.D. Thus the attempt by the early Chalukya rulers to establish a base in the fertile Malaprabha valley is undeniable. It is also evident that in the 7th-8th centuries AD, the Malaprabha valley acquired an identity that has continued to mould the lives of the communities both within and outside it. This identity included the demarcation of a territorial boundary within the enclosed terrain of the valley, adoption of a new mode of worship in the temple, the use of the Kannada language on coins and inscriptions and assumption of a sculptural programme based on the Epics and the Puranas. The larger issue that this paper raises is the disjuncture in the study of the past as a result of colonial intervention. In the colonial period, many of the standing temple structures came to be studied in terms of style, architecture and sculpture, the emphasis being on chronology and political patronage. This not only altered our understanding of the structures from being abodes of god to objects of artistic appreciation, but it also redefined the nature of Indic religions. Religion came to be understood in terms of doctrine, which could only be comprehended through the texts rather than through practices and rituals.  Once we shift the meaning of religion to its pre-Christian etymology, it is understood in terms of performing ancient ritual practices and paying homage to the gods. In keeping with this I suggest that pan-Indian religious and cultural practices, rituals and imagery formed the substratum of a self-perception and identity long before the Arab or European discovery of the term ‘Hindu’ in 14th-15th centuries AD and a judicious use of archaeological data provides evidence to unearth this identity.

Related: 0

The biography of temple complexes

Shivdasani Seminar
17 Nov 2005

The distribution of Buddhist and early temple sites shows that they overlap in the lower Krishna basin. But more noticeable is the clustering of early temple sites in the two interior districts of Mahboobnagar and Kurnool in Andhra where no Buddhist sites have been found, for example temple sites such as Keesaragutta and Alampur. The most ornate of the early temples located in the Eastern Deccan are those at the site of Alampur situated at the confluence of the rivers Tungabhadra and Krishna. The sites of Aihole, Badami and Patadakal formed the core area of temple construction in central Deccan. Inscriptions dating from 8th to 12th centuries from these temple sites, especially Aihole provide valuable information on the operations of the merchant guild Ayyavole and donations made by them to the temple complex. The importance of the sites of Aihole-Pattadakal-Badami in the development of multi-layered sacred space in central Deccan is undeniable and this presentation locates these temple complexes within their social domains.

Related: 0

The biography of temple complexes

Shivdasani Seminar
17 Nov 2005

The distribution of Buddhist and early temple sites shows that they overlap in the lower Krishna basin. But more noticeable is the clustering of early temple sites in the two interior districts of Mahboobnagar and Kurnool in Andhra where no Buddhist sites have been found, for example temple sites such as Keesaragutta and Alampur. The most ornate of the early temples located in the Eastern Deccan are those at the site of Alampur situated at the confluence of the rivers Tungabhadra and Krishna. The sites of Aihole, Badami and Patadakal formed the core area of temple construction in central Deccan. Inscriptions dating from 8th to 12th centuries from these temple sites, especially Aihole provide valuable information on the operations of the merchant guild Ayyavole and donations made by them to the temple complex. The importance of the sites of Aihole-Pattadakal-Badami in the development of multi-layered sacred space in central Deccan is undeniable and this presentation locates these temple complexes within their social domains.

Related: 1

Narratives in stone: The Ramayana in early deccan

Shivdasani Seminar
27 Oct 2005

Recitation from sacred texts including the Epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata was a crucial part of ritual activities at temples further reinforced by representations of themes from literature in narrative panels on temple walls. The most sustained visual narrative based on the Valmiki Ramayana dates from 5th to 8th centuries and is to be found on the Visnu temple at Deogarh dated to 425 AD, the contemporary temple at Nachna, as well as in the Deccan on the Durga, Papanatha and Virupaksa temples at Aihole – Pattadakal and at the Kailasa temple at Ellora. The Ramayana travelled to Southeast Asia towards the end of the first millennium AD, but the selection of themes and episodes to be depicted on monuments varied from place to place. This presentation analyses the Ramayana panels with a view to understanding the religious and cultural milieu of these shrines.

Related: 0

Narratives in stone: The Ramayana in early deccan

Shivdasani Seminar
27 Oct 2005

Recitation from sacred texts including the Epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata was a crucial part of ritual activities at temples further reinforced by representations of themes from literature in narrative panels on temple walls. The most sustained visual narrative based on the Valmiki Ramayana dates from 5th to 8th centuries and is to be found on the Visnu temple at Deogarh dated to 425 AD, the contemporary temple at Nachna, as well as in the Deccan on the Durga, Papanatha and Virupaksa temples at Aihole – Pattadakal and at the Kailasa temple at Ellora. The Ramayana travelled to Southeast Asia towards the end of the first millennium AD, but the selection of themes and episodes to be depicted on monuments varied from place to place. This presentation analyses the Ramayana panels with a view to understanding the religious and cultural milieu of these shrines.

Related: 1

Narratives in stone: The Ramayana in early deccan

Shivdasani Seminar
27 Oct 2005

Recitation from sacred texts including the Epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata was a crucial part of ritual activities at temples further reinforced by representations of themes from literature in narrative panels on temple walls. The most sustained visual narrative based on the Valmiki Ramayana dates from 5th to 8th centuries and is to be found on the Visnu temple at Deogarh dated to 425 AD, the contemporary temple at Nachna, as well as in the Deccan on the Durga, Papanatha and Virupaksa temples at Aihole – Pattadakal and at the Kailasa temple at Ellora. The Ramayana travelled to Southeast Asia towards the end of the first millennium AD, but the selection of themes and episodes to be depicted on monuments varied from place to place. This presentation analyses the Ramayana panels with a view to understanding the religious and cultural milieu of these shrines.

Related: 2

Colonial knowledge, archaeological reconstructions: The discovery of the Hindu temple in 19th-20th century India

Shivdasani Seminar
1 Nov 2005

The first lecture in the series traces the beginnings of the archaeology of religion in 19th-20th century India and highlights the trends that emerged in the study of the Hindu temple as a result of this intervention. Perhaps the most salient is the disjunction between religious praxis and theory and the study of architecture divorced from its ritual and philosophical moorings. A second is the change in the character of religious sites in the subcontinent from a culturally pluralistic personality to a monotheistic religious identity as a result of early archaeological legislation in the 19th century and more specifically from the early years of the 20th century onwards. This is best achieved by contrasting the ‘discovery’ of the site of Amaravati (1798-1867) with that of Nagarjunakonda (1920-1938) – both located along the river Krishna in the Guntur district of Andhra.

Related: 0

Colonial knowledge, archaeological reconstructions: The discovery of the Hindu temple in 19th-20th century India

Shivdasani Seminar
1 Nov 2005

The first lecture in the series traces the beginnings of the archaeology of religion in 19th-20th century India and highlights the trends that emerged in the study of the Hindu temple as a result of this intervention. Perhaps the most salient is the disjunction between religious praxis and theory and the study of architecture divorced from its ritual and philosophical moorings. A second is the change in the character of religious sites in the subcontinent from a culturally pluralistic personality to a monotheistic religious identity as a result of early archaeological legislation in the 19th century and more specifically from the early years of the 20th century onwards. This is best achieved by contrasting the ‘discovery’ of the site of Amaravati (1798-1867) with that of Nagarjunakonda (1920-1938) – both located along the river Krishna in the Guntur district of Andhra.

Related: 1

The shrine in early Hinduism: The changing sacred landscape

Shivdasani Lecture
8 Nov 2005

This lecture counters the linear view of religious change in South Asia, which suggests that the Hindu temple came into its own after the decline of Buddhism in the fourth-fifth centuries AD. Instead the presentation shows that the temple form was part of a common architectural vocabulary widely used from the second century BC onwards not only for the Buddhist shrine, but also for the Hindu and Jain temples and several local and regional cults. The speaker thus makes a case for plurality of religious beliefs and practices in ancient South Asia as against the prevailing view that these local and regional cults were gradually subsumed under the mantle of Sanskritisation starting from the 4th-5th centuries onwards.

Related: 0

The shrine in early Hinduism: The changing sacred landscape

Shivdasani Lecture
8 Nov 2005

This lecture counters the linear view of religious change in South Asia, which suggests that the Hindu temple came into its own after the decline of Buddhism in the fourth-fifth centuries AD. Instead the presentation shows that the temple form was part of a common architectural vocabulary widely used from the second century BC onwards not only for the Buddhist shrine, but also for the Hindu and Jain temples and several local and regional cults. The speaker thus makes a case for plurality of religious beliefs and practices in ancient South Asia as against the prevailing view that these local and regional cults were gradually subsumed under the mantle of Sanskritisation starting from the 4th-5th centuries onwards.

Related: 1