Religious developments during Post Mauryan period


Religious developments during Post Mauryan period (200BC to 300CE)
ambarish borah
Mind Map by ambarish borah, updated more than 1 year ago
ambarish borah
Created by ambarish borah almost 2 years ago

Resource summary

Religious developments during Post Mauryan period
  1. Sources: Textual evidences and archeological evidences
    1. Problems with textual evidence:
      1. Elite authorship, normative nature
        1. Not reflective of popular practice
        2. Difficult to date
          1. Beliefs and practices mentioned are older than texts
          2. Try to marginalize other traditions
            1. Distorted significance of the beliefs and ideas
            2. Do not mention regional and local variation in practices
          3. New developments
            1. Emergence of new devotional practices within Buddhism & Jainsim.
              1. New mythologies
              2. Image worship within religious shrines
                1. Shrines existed earlier, now greater permanence and prominence
                  1. Not only a sacred space, but also a community space
                  2. Emergence of early Hinduism
                  3. Interactions between different sects and religions
                    1. Pilgrimage sites
                      1. Sites within same area. Eg: Nagarjunikonda, Mathura
                      2. Sculptural motifs
                        1. Evidence of shared pool of auspicious symbols. Eg: Lotus, Elephant
                        2. Shared architectural styles of shrines
                        3. Various cults and sects
                          1. Yakshas and Yakshinis
                            1. Historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
                              1. Worship of Yakshas and Yakshinis: Source of emergence of devotional element (Bhakti) in Indian tradition
                                1. Why?
                                  1. Their worship implied: Temples, offerings and a cult
                              2. Evidences from literary sources and sculptural sources imply:
                                1. Gradual metamorphosis from benevolent beings to demonic beings
                                  1. Worship absorbed into Brahmanical, Buddhism and Jainism : Sidelined to lesser important gods
                                    1. Yakshas became Dwarpals at temples, Yakshis became Nymps
                                    2. Around the turn of the millennia, colossal images of Yakshas and Yakshinis disappear, but small statues found in large numbers
                                      1. Reduced importance in public worship, but continued importance in private worship
                                      2. Presented as minor, rural, folk cults; But colossal images indicate otherwise
                                        1. Colossal Yaksha image at Besnagar, Manibhadra Yaksha at Mathura
                                          1. Wealthy patrons; Urban phenomenon
                                        2. Important part of religious landscape in 200 BCE to 300CE
                                        3. Associated with wealth and fertility
                                        4. Nagas and Nagis
                                          1. Associated with water and fertility
                                            1. Originally focus of exclusive worship, gradually relegated to the background
                                              1. Colossal Naga figures found in Mathura, Jabalpur, etc
                                                1. Elaborate brick and stone Naga temple at Sonkh near Mathura. Structural phase of this temple: 1st cen. BCE to 2nd cen. CE
                                                  1. Story of Krishna subduing Kaliya naga can be interpreted as Vaishnavism absorbing Naga cult
                                                2. Goddesses, votive tanks and shrines
                                                  1. Discovery of terracotta female figurines, artefacts in stratigraphic context of 200BCE to 300CE
                                                    1. Subjective whether female terracotta figurines were having cultic significance or not
                                                      1. If having cultic significance: whether images were objects of worship, offerings or part of domestic rituals?
                                                      2. Mathura - numerous terracotta goddess figurines; Taxila, Chirand, Sonkh - artefacts that seems to be votive tanks and domestic shrines
                                                      3. Associated with fertility, child birth, safeguarding of children, protection against diseases etc.
                                                      4. Vedic rituals
                                                        1. Evidences of continuing importance of Vedic rituals
                                                          1. Literary
                                                            1. Reference of Ashvamedha sacrifice by Pushyamitra Shunga, Satvahanas and Ikshvaku kings
                                                            2. Archeological
                                                              1. Yaudheya coin found in Sambhar, bull standing in front of a yupa(sacrificial post)
                                                                1. Excavations at Mathura revealed pits containing ash, animal bones and pottery
                                                                  1. Excavations outside Kaushambi revealed brick altar and bones of animal and humans
                                                                2. Important for political legitimacy of rulers
                                                                3. Puranic Hinduism
                                                                  1. English word Hinduism is modern, first used by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1816-17
                                                                    1. Word Hindu is older, derived from Sindhu river, used as a geographical term
                                                                      1. Hindu acquired a religious and cultural meaning in the medieval period
                                                                    2. 200BCE-300CE: evidence from literary and archeological sources about certain devotional practices that can be associated with Hindusim
                                                                      1. Period of evolution of the Hindu pantheon
                                                                        1. Some dieties known from the Vedas, during this period emerged as foci of devotion
                                                                        2. Literary
                                                                          1. New religiosity of devotion reflected in Bhagavad Gita
                                                                            1. Baudhayana Grihasutra and Gautama Dharmasutra: description of worship of images of deities in connection with various aspect of life
                                                                              1. Patanjali's Mahabhashya and Arthasashtra mentions temples dedicated to dieties
                                                                              2. Archeological
                                                                                1. Besnagar Pillar inscription of Heliodorus mentions a Vishnu temple
                                                                                  1. 2nd cen. Nagari niscription mentions temple of Samkarshana (Balarama) and Vasudeva
                                                                                    1. Stone and terracotta sculptures from Mathura indicate clearly indicate that popular cults of the Yakshas and Yakshis, Nagas and Nagis were gradually pushed to the margins and gods and godesses of Brahmanical sects gaining centre stage
                                                                                  2. Major sects
                                                                                    1. Shavism
                                                                                      1. Literary reference
                                                                                        1. Pashupati Seal: May have roots in Harappan Civilization
                                                                                          1. Rig Veda: Word Shiva is used, but not in context of a God; Rudra is mentioned-Fits description of Shiva; Despises the phallic worshippers
                                                                                            1. Later Vedic Texts contain reference to a God with various names: Shiva, Mahadeva, Maheshwara etc.
                                                                                              1. Shvetashvatara Upanishad: Lord of all Gods
                                                                                                1. Patanjali's Mahabhashya: Rudra-Shiva, a diety connected with medicinal herbs
                                                                                                  1. Puranas: Multiplicity of Shiva's forms and his various aspects
                                                                                                    1. Ramayana: Ravana worshipping Rudra in linga form
                                                                                                    2. Archeological reference
                                                                                                      1. Sculptural: 2nd cen. arcitectural fragment found at Bhuteswar in Mathura; shows the linga under a peepal tree, surrounded by railings and worshipped by two winged creatures
                                                                                                        1. Coins: Phallic emblems found at coins of Taxila and Ujjain, Kartikeya depicted in Yaudheya coin
                                                                                                          1. Temple in Nagarjunikonda dedicated to Kartikeya
                                                                                                        2. Vaishnavism
                                                                                                          1. Coming together of initially independent cults of various dieties such as Narayana, Vasudeva Krishna, Lakshmi etc
                                                                                                            1. Vasudeva Krishna: Complex character and varied association suggests amalgamation of originally separate strands and traditions
                                                                                                              1. Literary
                                                                                                                1. Panini's Ashtadhyayi
                                                                                                                  1. Megasthenes: States that Sourasenio who lived in Mathura worshipped Greek God Herakles, who bears close resemblance to Vasudev Krishna
                                                                                                                    1. Mahabharata: Krishna an ally of Pandavas; Bhavad GIta: Krishna is charioter of Arjuna
                                                                                                                      1. Puranas
                                                                                                                        1. Harivamsha: Detailed account of Krishna's life
                                                                                                                        2. Archelogical
                                                                                                                          1. Besnagar Pillar inscription
                                                                                                                            1. 2nd cen. Nagari inscription
                                                                                                                          2. Narayana: Some historians have suggested Narayana to be a non-Vedic deity.
                                                                                                                            1. Literary: Rig Veda, Shatapatha Brahmana, Mahabharata
                                                                                                                              1. Archeological: Colossal image at Mathura; Garuda and Varaha sculpture
                                                                                                                              2. Lakshmi: By zbout 3rd/4th cen. CE Lakshmi absorbed into Vaishnava Pantheon
                                                                                                                                1. Litearary: Mahabharata, Rmayana and Puranas describe her association with Vishnu; Rig Veda, Vajasaneyi Samhita and Taittiriya Aranyak
                                                                                                                                  1. Archelogical: At Sonkh, a relief carving of Lakshmi on an achitectural fragment at pre Kushana level; apperas in coins of Shunga king Jyeshthamitra and Scytho-Parthian kings.
                                                                                                                              3. Shaktism
                                                                                                                                1. Goddess worship existed from earlier times; associated with fertility, protection of children etc.
                                                                                                                                  1. In the course of 1st millennium, Puranas tried to bring some of these goddesses together and present them as manifestation of one goddess Shakti
                                                                                                                                  2. Literary sources of info:
                                                                                                                                    1. Taittiriya Aranyaka
                                                                                                                                      1. Mundaka Upanishada
                                                                                                                                        1. Periplus: Refers to a place called coomari associated with worship of a goddess
                                                                                                                                          1. Mahabharata
                                                                                                                                            1. Harivamsha
                                                                                                                                            2. Archeological sources of info:
                                                                                                                                              1. Stone Durga, Mahishasurmardini images from Mathura
                                                                                                                                                1. Stone plaque at Sonkh depicting Durga as Mahisasurmardini
                                                                                                                                          2. Mahayana Buddhism
                                                                                                                                            1. Period 200BCE-300CE associated with emergence of Mahayana
                                                                                                                                              1. Origins considered to be in older Mahasanghika school
                                                                                                                                                1. Was emergence of Mahayana a split in Buddhism?
                                                                                                                                                  1. According to Heinz Berchert, sangha-bheda did not mean split/schism as in the case of Christisnism
                                                                                                                                                    1. Schism was concerning monastic discipline, not doctrinal issues
                                                                                                                                                    2. Given the centrality of Vinaya rules, there was nothing that could prevent monks having different views regarding matters of doctrine and discipline from living in same place
                                                                                                                                                      1. Corroborated by Fa Hien and Huen Tsang, who mentioned Mahayana and Non-Mahayana monks living together
                                                                                                                                                      2. Mahayana Sutras claim to contain teachings of the Buddha and do not project themselves as representing any radical break with older traditions
                                                                                                                                                      3. Important features:
                                                                                                                                                        1. Increasing usage of Sanskrit vs Pali
                                                                                                                                                          1. Centrality of idea of Bodhisattva vs Arhat
                                                                                                                                                            1. In earlier traditions, Buddha considered as a man who attained Nibbana. Now considered as almost a god.
                                                                                                                                                              1. Image worship vs relic worship. Relic worship continued
                                                                                                                                                              2. Archeological evidence:
                                                                                                                                                                1. Historian Lars Fogelin's study of architecture and landscape of the monastic sites of northern coastal Andhra
                                                                                                                                                                2. Mahayana and woman
                                                                                                                                                                  1. Diana Y. Paul points out that Mahayana texts too reflect negative and positive images of woman and feminity.
                                                                                                                                                                    1. In some places portrayed as mysterious, elusive, dangerous and weak in body and mind. In other places gentle, compassionate and creative.
                                                                                                                                                                    2. Path of renunciation was open to woman but was not encouraged according to the texts
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Mahayana texts divided on the opinion regarding women's potential to follow the path leading to Bodhisattva-hood
                                                                                                                                                                        1. Some opine woman can not attain bodhisattva-hood until she was reborn as a man; some contain stories of miraculous sex change
                                                                                                                                                                        2. All available information about the Sanghas of the period about Sanghas of Man; no mention of Sanghas of woman
                                                                                                                                                                          1. Bhikhunnis Sanghas did exist as inferred from the references to nuns as donors in inscriptions. These Sanghas however were not renouned.
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Jainism
                                                                                                                                                                        1. Digmabara - Shvetambara schism in Jainism
                                                                                                                                                                          1. Literary evidence
                                                                                                                                                                            1. Digambaras describe the schism as result of south ward migration of some monks led by Bhadrabahu
                                                                                                                                                                              1. When they returned to Magadha, they saw that the monks who had stayed behind had changed their ways of life, codified the canons led by Sthulabhadra and started wearing clothes
                                                                                                                                                                              2. Shvetambaras ascribe the origin of the Digambara sect to a self initiating monk named Shivabhuti. Shivabhuti hearing of older practice of nudity of monks, which had died down by then, decided to re-institute it.
                                                                                                                                                                              3. Archeological evidence
                                                                                                                                                                                1. Points to a gradual shift towards wearing clothes, rather than any abrupt change
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. All Tirthankara images from Mathura region are naked, clothed Tirthankara images become common only during 5th cen CE.
                                                                                                                                                                              4. The ritualistic practices were mostly Brahmanical, earliest attempt to codify the samskaras was done by Jinasena
                                                                                                                                                                                1. Development of Temple cult and lay rituals
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Folkert ponits out that there is plenty of evidence that temple cult developed outside the influence and control of the monastic order
                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Spread of popularity of Jainsim to new areas such as Mathura, South India etc
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