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Śaivism in the Gupta-Vākāṭaka Age*

  • PETER BISSCHOP

Abstract

One of the features of the Gupta-Vākāṭaka age is the growth of Śaivism. In this article some of the epigraphical evidence for this process is assembled and discussed. While the direct evidence for the adoption of Śiva worship among the Guptas is limited to ministers of the Gupta court, it is clear that the Vākāṭaka kings were predominantly Māheśvaras. New fragmentary wall inscriptions uncovered from Mansar, the site of Pravarasena II's palace, hint at a possible connection with the teachings of the Śvetāśvatara-Upaniṣad. Two post-Gupta inscriptions from the area around Mandasor are discussed in the light of a tendency towards religious hierarchisation, an attitude which came to be increasingly characteristic of early medieval Śaivism. In the second part attention is drawn to the variety of Pāśupata and Māheśvara worship in the Gupta-Vākāṭaka age, as well as to the trifold organisation of the Pāśupata movement. The article ends with a note on the interaction with non-Śaiva traditions, in particular Buddhism, and its possible impact upon the formation of the Pāśupata movement.

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This article is an extended version of a paper I gave at the Symposium ‘The Gupta-Vākāṭaka Age’, British Museum, London, June 29–30, 2009. I would like to thank the organisers, Hans Bakker and Michael Willis, for inviting me to give a presentation on the present subject. This is the first publication to appear in the context of the research project ‘Early Śaiva Mythology: A study of the formative period of an integrated religious vision’, a collaboration between Peter Bisschop and Harunaga Isaacson, kindly funded by a three year grant of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). I am grateful to Hans Bakker, Harunaga Isaacson and Michael Willis for their critical comments on an earlier draft.

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Śaivism in the Gupta-Vākāṭaka Age*

  • PETER BISSCHOP

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