This volume is a tribute to Professor Doris Meth Srinivasan's profound scholarship and seminal writings, to which colleagues from various countries have contributed. Their topics, often referencing Prof. Srinivasan's works, are presented from different angles of academic perspective and specialisation, namely, South Asian Art History, South Asian Architecture, Classical Indology (or Ancient Indian Philology), Archaeology, Numismatics, Cultural History, etc.
The book is prefaced with two in-depth forewords, by Professors Lokesh Chandra and Gerard Fussman. The former includes a discussion of the contents, while the latter details appreciation of Prof. Srinivasan's work and explores her subject matter and academic achievements. The honorand's complete bibliography is also provided. The chapters set out with studies of early historical periods (including pre- and protohistory). The largest section, "Investigating All Things Kushan", coincides with Prof. Srinivasan's major field of specialization, namely, Mathuran and Gandharan art. This rich terrain of cultural history and its vestiges will probably never cease to provide specialists with intriguing questions to be tackled and fresh insights to be distilled from the overall corpus of data that has come upon us. Following are the sections on Gupta-period and Medieval topics, specifically including Numismatics and Architecture. The thematic sections on female protagonists including goddesses, and "Telling Images", involving particularly painstaking case studies, conclude the volume. In terms of geography, the topics range from the Indo-Iranian region in the west to peninsular Southeast Asia in the east, with India forming the hub.
Corinna Wessels-Mevissen is an independent researcher affiliated with the Asian Art Museum, Berlin, Germany. She studied Indian Art History, Archaeology, and Sanskrit at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitat zu Kiel and at the Freie Universitat Berlin (M.A.; Ph.D.). She served as Guest Lecturer at the former Institute of Indian Philology and Art History, Freie Universitat Berlin (2001; 2008), and as Guest Curator (2003-04) and Curator (2006-07) at the former Museum of Indian Art (since 2006 part of the Asian Art Museum, Berlin). In 2009, she was appointed One-Year Fellow at the Morphomata International Center for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne. She has authored the monograph The Gods of the Directions in Ancient India (2001) as well as various research articles on ancient Indian archaeology and art, and made contributions to exhibition catalogues and encyclopaediae.
Gerd J.R. Mevissen is an independent researcher affiliated with the Asian Art Museum, Berlin, Germany. He studied Architecture at the Technische Universitat Berlin (Dipl.-Ing. Arch.), and Indian Art History at the Freie Universitat Berlin (M.A.). He served as Lecturer at the former Institute of Indian Philology and Art History, Freie Universitat Berlin (1990-95), and as Curator at the former Museum of Indian Art, Berlin (2000-02). He is executive editor of the research journal Berliner Indologische Studien /Berlin Indological Studies (since 1995) and, formerly, of Indo-Asiatische Zeitschrifi (Berlin; 1997-2017). He has also edited several volumes of collected papers (since 1991), and has published numerous research articles on ancient Indian art and iconography (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain), often focussing on the systematic documentation of groups of minor deities, such as Navagrahas.
This Festschrift is a magnificent volume that speaks of the 'pulse' of Indology,
beginning from the earliest times of the Rigveda down to the Kushans. It
is a splendid tribute to the multifaceted contributions of Prof. Doris Meth
Srinivasan. She has been the academic Silk Route of India's classical heritage.
She has opened up new vistas of ideas and forms, social and political
polarities, from the dawn of Rigvedic civilisation down to the times of Kushan
emperors. She began her academic life with Concept of Cow in the Rigveda
(1979,2017), a burning topic to this day. Her work on multiplicity in Indian
Art gives an insight into India's aesthetic perceptions of 'space without'
shimmering into 'space within'. I have read her for hours on themes like Oeso
consummating progressive linkages with Siva and melding with him into one
image at Tun-huang, and I have thought about themes like the Five Trisula
Ensigns of the world-conquering Emperor Chinggis Khan. I have wondered
with her on Visnu-Narayana, trying to comprehend whether across the
centuries he became the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara in East Asia. His
Sanskrit invocation was sung in Chinese pronunciation by a thousand Chinese
beauties at the inauguration of the World Olympics, Shanghai 2008. It was a
resounding world event in its imperial grandeur of the Tang period.
The volume begins with the ox-carts of the Kot Diji period (c. 3000 Be), a rumbling cart
in the Rigveda, Brahmanas, Srauta- and Grhya-sutras, Mahabharata, down to modern Indian
languages, introduced by Asko Parpola.
The terracotta images from Ropar show close resemblance to those found as far as Bengal.
The writer, Arundhati Banerji, feels that they "served for inland trade or were acquired by
pilgrims". The terracotta images have been described in Tibetan texts translated from Sanskrit
originals. They were and are used in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and other Vajrayana areas as
"votive offerings" to secure a safe journey, to beget a son, to gain affluence, to recoup health
and other needs. They are termed satstsha, which is a corruption of Sanskrit sancaka 'image
cast from a mould'. The Sanskrit term sancaka is recorded in the Sanskrit titles of works in
the Tibetan Tanjur. Terracotta images call for a study based on the texts related to them in the
Corinna Wessels-Mevissen discusses the fascinating Sphinx-like bronze figure in the Asian
Art Museum, Berlin. As she rightly points out, it is inspired by foreign artworks, with its unusual
headgear. These sphinx-like figures come from dominantly Buddhist sites like Begram, Sanchi,
Bharhut and Kaushambi, which were frequented by foreign pilgrims and monks as outstanding
centres of sanctity and learning. They might have been votive offerings to preclude negative
destinies, and may have even been brought from outside India.
Vrsnis in art and literature by Vinay Kumar Gupta is a fascinating survey of the Vrsni cult
and the role of Lord Krsna who is a Yadava. The Yadus are mentioned repeatedly in the Rigveda
in conjunction with Turvasa. Vrsni means 'mighty, powerful', and as such their sealings from
Sunet hold symbols of power: musala, gada, cakra and sankha. Such sealings were sacred
talismans. Such amulets in a little box (Tib. gahu)
are worn suspended around the neck by Tibetans.
There are several Tibetan texts on the casting and
rituals of the sancaka amulets.
David W MacDowall deals with the coinage
of the Kushans, their mints, metrology and use of
Roman gold for their dinaras. The coins speak of
the flourishing trade across the sands and oceans,
besides the tolls and levies across the vast Kushan
empire. This study of Kushan numismatics is a
continuation of the fundamental contributions
of Prof. Doris Srinivasan to the understanding of
The Kushans fascinate historians as a dynamic
cultural power who created a pan-Asian Buddhist
cosmopolis. They were evidently proud of their
west Iranian roots. Kaniska discontinued the use
of Greek and adopted his Aryobhaso (now called
Bactrian) as the language of the state. Yueh-chih
(also written Yueh-shih) is pronounced Gesshi in
Japanese. Gesshi comes close to Gusana, a variant
of Kusana. In them the main word is Kusa/Gusa to
which the topographic suffix °an has been added (as
in Ir-an, Bamiy-an). Kusadvipa refers to the Kushan
dominions. Kusa/Gusa was sanskritised as Ghosa,
Asvaghosa is shown in Japanese iconographic
manuals of the 12th century as riding a horse.
He could have been a Kushan (ghosa). The great
Pali commentator Buddhaghosa was born in a
Brahmana family of Uttarapatha (Geiger 1943: 28)
or TransGandhara and should have been of Kushan
extraction. The Ghosh of Bengal are kayasthas, i.e.
persons serving (stha) the king (kaya/kai =Kavi). The
word kayastha occurs for the first time in a Kushan
Shoshin Kuwayama opines that as "Gandhara
was distant from Sakyamuni in terms of time
and space", the Gandharans tried to create strong
ties with Sakyamuni. They had his alms bowl
as well as his corporeal relics. They established
four great stupas in commemoration of his Birth,
Enlightenment, First Sermon and Parinirvana. All
these great events had happened in east India, in their ardent pursuit of ties with Sakyamuni they
duplicated them in Gandhara. Kuwayama points out
that the anthropomorphic image of Sakyamuni was
transmitted from Gandhara to mainland India. The
Mahavastu mentions three predecessor Buddhas
(purima Buddha) of Sakyamuni: Krakucchanda,
Kasyapa and Bhama-Konakamana, Bhama is
Bamiyan. Konaka is from Tocharian kom 'sun' (loc.
sg. konam, dat.sg. konam) and Tocharian A man
'moon', thematised as mana for declension in
Sanskrit. Suryacandra is the name of a person in
the Kathasaritsagara. The sun and the moon were
the symbols of royal power in Central Asia. Thus,
the immediate predecessor of Sakyamuni may have
been from Bamiyan in Gandhara.
Pia Brancaccio studies the lexicon of the
stupa base in Gandhara, which echoes the sacred
symbolism of the purnaghata, srivatsa, etc. beside
Hellenic images of Herakles and Aphrodite.
Greeks and Gandharans worshipped Sakyamuni,
with Greek gods in subordinate roles. They are
placed at the entrance of the stupa, that is, as
gate-keepers. The local deities were owned in
subordinate positions. It was a part of the process -
of interiorisation in the strategy (upaya-kausalya)
of the dissemination of the Dharma. Acceptance
of prevalent Greek deities expedited the spread
of Buddhism in Gandhara. Padmasambhava
established Buddhism in Tibet by owning the
local deities (gnas.Lha) as guardians of Dharma.
Divyavadana that reflects the religious milieu
of Gandhara in the Kushan period says that
seeing engenders faith (sraddha), which in turn
engenders offering (prasada), and that translates
into a donation (dana) to the monastery. It is 'visual
dharma' that leads to the transcendental: the amurta.
There was conflict between Hellenism and
Buddhism. It can be discerned in the conversion
of Nagaraj a Apalala. Apalala-damana or the
suppression and conversion of Apalala is not
mentioned among the stories included in Pali
Canon in the Three Councils (Sangiti). The
Mahavarnsa 30.84 says that this episode was
represented in the relic chamber of the Mahathupa
in Sri Lanka. Sarnantapasadika 4.742 recounts the
story of Apalala-damana.
In the Bhaisajyavastu (Dutt 1939) of the Mula-
sarvastivada Vinaya, the Buddha proceeds from the
city of Rohitaka (mod. Rohtak) to subjugate Apalala,
He leaves behind Ananda and is accompanied by
Vajrapani (gato 'ham iinanda vajrapani-sahaya
uttarapatham). Divyavadana 348.20 says that the
Buddha returned to Mathura after converting
(viniya) Apalala. Further on (385.3) it says that
before his parinirvana, the Buddha converted
(damayitva) the naga, reached Mathura and
called Ananda. The conversion is referred to in the
manjuri-mula-kalpa 18.12 and in the Atanatiya-
sutra (Hoernle 1916: 27). In Samadhiraja-sutra
Apalala Nagaraja stands in the sky, with flowers
and jewels in his hand to honour the Buddha:
Mahamayuri 221.24, 247.3' lists Apalala among the
names of nagas.
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