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Early Vaisnava Texts from Nepal

Shivdasani Lecture
OCHS Library
Dr Diwakar Acharya
Monday, 18 January 2010 - 2:00pm

Exploring early palm-leaf manuscripts from the NGMPP collection, I came across some rare Vaiṣṇava Tantras which were hardly known from any other source. In this lecture, I will talk about four of such texts: the Svāyambhuvapañcarātra, Devāmṛta-pañcarātra, Jayottaratantra, and the Vāsudevakalpa of the Mahālakṣmṃhitā, which are preserved in palm-leaf manuscripts of the 11–14th centuries.

The first three texts are earlier than the texts which are regarded until now as the earliest Pāñcarātra texts. The fourth text, the Vāsudevakalpa, is exclusively concerned with the composite form of Lakṣmī and Vāsudeva, and is comparable to early Śāktatantras in certain aspects in its structure and contents. These texts together provide a broader picture of Vaiṣṇava Tantricism, and suggest that what was happening in the Śaiva fold was very similar to what was happening in the Vaiṣṇava fold.

I will briefly present the contents of all these texts and discuss specific features of them.