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The devatācakra of the Mahānubhāvas1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009

Extract

The Mahānubhāvas are a Maharashtrian bhakti sect founded in the second half of the thirteenth century. Like other Indian bhakti sects, the Mahānubhāvas practise exclusive devotion to one god, but do not thereby deny the existence of other gods. Rather, Mahānubhāvas hold that ‘the gods’ form a category of real beings distinct from jīvas, the world, and God. Mahānubhāva thought pays a good deal of attention to the gods; yet this attention does not compromise Mahānubhāva monotheism.

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Copyright
Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 1980

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References

2 For an introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of the Mahānubhāvas, see Raeside, I. M. P., ‘The Mahānubhāvas’, BSOAS, XXXIX, 3, 1976, 585600CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 The text used here is that of my own diplomatic edition (Feldhaus, Anne, The Mahānubhāva Sūtrapāṭha, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1976, pp. 125253)Google Scholar. The chapters are: I, Anyavyāvṛtti; rr, Yugadharma; m, Vidyāmārga; rv, Saṃhāra; v, Saṃsarana; VI, Mahāvākya; VII, Nirvacana; VIII, Uddharaṇa; IX, Asatipari; X, Vicāra; XI, Vicāra Mālikā; XII, Ācāra; xm, Ācāra Mālikā.

4 There are some exceptions to this rule. V. B. Kolte gives a listing of these in his Mahānubhāva Tattvajnāna (Fourth edition), Malkāpūr: Arun Prakāśan, 1975, 36–7Google Scholar. In general, however, the distinction between ‘God’ and ‘the gods’ is clear even in these cases.

5 SeeSūtrapātha X, 208: karmabhumī eka karītām eka nīme, eka ṇīphaje. svargaṇarkīṃ, ase teṃci ṇīme. xi, 133 compares Vārānasī to heaven on the basis of the fact that in Vārānasī also neither pāpa norpunya can be brought into being: vārānasi svargadhaṃḍa. tetha vīdhinīkṣeda āti, pari punyapāpa nāhim.

6 Cited by Kolte, , op. cit., 38 and n. 2Google Scholar.

7 Although Kolte identifies the eight classes (ciḍā, ciṭūka, vīra, bhautīka, devī, devi, yaksa andyaksinī) composing this group (ibid., p. 60), he does not cite a reference to this information in Mahānubhāva literature, and I do not find it in Laksanasthala Mahābhāṣya, the published commentary (ed. M. Panjabi, Amarāvati, 1969), on the relevant section of theSūtrapāṭha.

8 Along with Mādhava, Sarasvatī, Citra, Vicitra, and Citrāṃgada or Citraratha—again, however, without citing a source in the literature. Kolte, , op. cit., 60–1Google Scholar.

9 Ibid., 38 and n. 2.

11 xi, a32-a33:vajravoḷi, amaravoli sīdhavoḷi, dīvyavoli yā cyārhī voḷī nāthāciyā. kaḷiyugīm vajravoḷi āmaraoḷi āti, sīdhavoḷi divyaoḷi nāhīm. he cyārhī aṣṭabhairavāce āgama bahiryāga.

12 X, 35: tīṣṭ grāma tīnhī rane samānaci.

13 See, for example, x, 36; xi, a57.

14 XI, 81 ends: caitaṇyāṃ paru paramesvarū pāvīje. teṃ acyūlapada bolije. XI, a55: sakaḷāṃhīṃ vīdyāṃceṃ sādhana etha, sādhya bramhāṃdīṃ. bramhavīdye sādhisādhana ethaci. XI, 24: javu#x1E43; paruṣu vīdye adhiṇū ṇavhe tavaṃ bramhavīdye adhikārū āti.

15 Lakṣaṇasthaḷa Mahābhāṣya, 238.

16 Ibid., 239.

17 Ibid., 143.

18 Ibid., 134, 140–3.

19 Ibid., 108.

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