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Graduate Seminars (Session Two)

OCHS Library
Convenors: Tristan Elby and Lucian Wong
Friday, 14 February 2014 - 4:00pm

Hinduism in Himachal Pradesh

Shriya Gautam, M.St. in Archaeology, Oxford

Hinduism is the main religion of Indian Subcontinent that combines the philosophies of various ancient religions with the various tenets prescribed in the four Vedas and other scared texts like Upnishads, Epics and the Puranas. In the larger part of the subcontinent, the religion has evolved from the historic pagan religion that worshipped various forces nature to a polytheistic religion with over 370 million gods and goddesses out of which Vishnu, the God of Preservation; Shiva, the God of Death and Devi, the Mother Goddess remain prominent. In Himachal Pradesh, however, a lot of local traditions combine with mainstream Hinduism to form a composite religion which worships Vedic Gods along with Puranic Gods. This paper attempts to examine the nature of Hinduism in Himachal Pradesh and study how it differs from Hinduism in the rest of subcontinent.

Arthaśāstric Fortifications in Early Historic to Early Medieval South Asia

Ken Ishikawa, Wolfson College, Oxford

The second urbanization of South Asia during the Early Historic period saw the emergence and development of fortified settlements predominantly concentrated in the Gangetic valley. F. R. Allchin (1995) approached the morphology of Early Historic fortifications with the aid of the normative text called the Arthaśāstra, that instructs the construction of fortifications. This paper follows his methodology by attesting further textual parallels, but also questions his unconditional acceptance of the Arthaśāstra as an ‘Early Historic’ text. Accordingly, both Early Historic fortifications with different morphological features and applicable texts are put into chronological and geographical contexts. My archaeological/literary investigation gives a new insight into the pre-Mauryan origin of the norms of fortification transmitted in the Arthaśāstra, despite the disputed date of its compilation ranging between Mauryan and Gupta periods. This tells us that the science of fortification in the Arthaśāstra was rather documentary than innovative. I further link Early Historic fortifications with the Solanki fortifications of Early Medieval Gujarat, that have been heavily influenced by the Arthaśāstra.