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India in the Time of Patanjali

India in the Time of Patanjali


Item Code: IDD893

by B.N. Puri

Hardcover (Edition: 1990)

Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN 8121504648

Language: English
Size: 9.0" X 6.0"
Pages: 280
Weight of the Book: 430 gms
Price: $27.50
Discounted: $20.62   Shipping Free
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About the Book

Patanjali's Mahabhasya is not merely a commentary on Panini and Katyayana, but seeks to present the politico-socio scenario of his time. The present works is based on the data, as could be culled from the relevant illustrations and citations quoted by the Bhasyakara in support of his grammatical comments, as also supported by literary and epigraphic source materials. The study concentrates not only on the date, birth-place and identity of two or more Patanjalis, but also provides a study of the political history of the Sunga-Kanva and early Andhra rulers in proper perspectives.

In addition, besides the geographical background, social life in all its facets, as all the economic condition, followed by religion and literature have been fully brought out. The chapter on art and architecture is based on Bharhut and Sanci, the two contemporary art centers with rich sculptural details, and also includes a section on the terracottas of the Sunga period.

The work in its totality provides a comprehensive study of the history and culture of Northern India of the Period centering round c. 150 BC. In the edition, several chapters have received fresh treatment to make the work innovative with a flair of improved style and diction.

About the Author

Professor Emeritus B.N. Puri is one of the leading historians engaged in interpreting the history of India. His two works;:India in the Time of Patanjali and The History of the Gurjara Pratiharas earned him the degrees of M.Litt. and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. Now for more than 50 years Dr. Puri has been occupied in research in different branches of Indology. His publications include India Under the Kusanas, India in Classical Greek Writings, History of Indian Administration, 3 vols., Buddhism in Central Asia, Indian Cultural Expansion in Central Asia and in South and South-East Asia, The Indian Freedom Struggle - A Survey, Cities of Ancient India, and recently published Secularism Indian Ethos etc.

Dr. Puri is widely traveled and has delivered lectures in many universities in India and abroad.



B.N. Puri's India in the Time of Patanjali is an original study of the stages of Indian culture prevalent during an obscure period centring around 150 BC. It is based primarily upon evi- dence laboriously elicited from a text of great difficulty and importance whereof the particulars had not been at all fully investigated. Most scholars have at times had occasion to realize that Patanjali's masterpiece had remained, not indeed a terra incognita, yet a region insufficiently explored and gazet- ted. In Dr Puri's work the material is collected and systemati- cally expounded, with comparisons and large supplements afforded by the facts and conclusions of Indian History, general and literary, and those of art, archaeology and numismatics, so that a full picture is presented.

The book would be found valuable for perusal by students of Indian culture and history and for consultation, with the aid of a suitable index, by senior scholars in different depart- ments.


Preface to the First Edition

Patanjali, the Bhasyakara, is to be distinguished from the- Yoga Sutrakara of the name sake and there is no ground of confusing the two. The present work is concerned with the former who is well known for his comment on the Sutras or Panini in the light of Katyayana's Varttikas. He wrote his work for the Sistas, the Brahmin intelligents of Aryavarta oppor- tunely, when Sanskrit was losing its popularity with the' emergence of provincial literary dialects. His aim was to make' the Sistas understand the difficult rules of grammar, and to preserve the chastity of language. In this work, Patanjali makes repeated references to the personality of Pusyamitra, to the invasion of the Yavanas who besieged Saketa (Ayodhya) and Madhyamika (near Chittor), and the Yajnas performed by the _ Sunga monarch. It is now commonly conceded that Patanjali, the Bhasyakara, was a contemporary of Pusyamitra Sunga. He seems to have witnessed the Yavana invasion and presumably officiated at the sacrifices performed by the Sunga monarch.

In the Introductory Chapter. I have considered at length the traditions about the composition of the work, its sanctity, and the different accounts relating to the birth of its author. Argu- ments for and against the identification of two or more Patanjalis, as adduced by scholars, have been fully weighed. The parentage and birthplace of Patanjali have been considered in the light of the references in Mahabhasya to Gonikaputra and Gonarddiya. Presumably the name of his mother was Gonika Here one is not inclined to agree with R.G. Bhandarkar that Patanjali's birth-place was Gonda in Avadha, or that he was a native of the Deccan, as suggested by P.C. Chakravartty.

The Second Chapter is devoted to a detailed history or Northern India from the second century BC to the dawn of Christian era. The main events of the reign of Pusyamitra- the Vidarbha war, Yavana invasions, twice performance of Asvamedha sacrifices, and the supposed invasion by King Kharavela of Kalinga-are considered in detail on the basis of the available sources. There is little reason to presume the contemporaneity of Kharavela and Pusyamitra, the Sunga, monarch, who can not be identified with Bahasatimitra. The history of the later Sungas, followed by the Kanvas, is inexplicable save for the names of the rulers and the period of their rule, but the Besnagar inscription suggests the existence of diplomatic relations between the Sungas and the Indo-Greeks who were well-settled in the Punjab. The provincial dynasties of Pancala, Ayodhya, Mathura, Kausambi and Kalinga and certain tribes have also been dealt with. The study is based principally on coins and a few inscriptions. There is no ground for identifying the local rulers of Pancala, for name sake, with the Sunga kings. In this Chapter the history of the tw0 Indo- Greek families of Euthydemus and Eucratides and that of the Sakas has also been considered. Patanjali also refers to the Sakas and Yavanas in his work. The history of Kalinga under Kharvela and his probable date, and the original home of the Andhras, who uprooted the Kanvas and the last remnants of the Sungas, are also taken 'into account. The evidence relating to the political history of this period is scanty and in the words of the late Professor Rapson, 'we can only define the limits of possible hypothesis in this instance.'

The Geographical information in the Mahabhasya is not so exhaustive as in the Astadhyayi, probably due to the fact that the Bhasyakara does not comment on certain Sutras relating to geographical data. His work is, however, comprehensive enough to afford an idea of the different Janapadas or kingdoms with which Patanjali was familiar. He is more particular about Aryavarta. the land of the Sistas and defines boundaries which can be verified from the information provided by the Smrti- karas on the point. But he is by no means restricted. One finds reference to the settlements of the Yavanas, the Janapadas of the North-West-Gandhara, Kamboja and Kasmira, those in the East-Anga, Magadha, Kalinga and Pragdesa; Sindhu, Sauvtra and Surastra in the West, and Chola, Pandya and Kerala in the South. He also refers to the important cities of Northern India, and to a few in the Southern, like Nasikya and Kancipura, One also finds reference to the physical geography, rivers and mountains etc.

The information relating to social life in the Mahabhasya is exhaustive enough and it is discussed under different beadings-Division of Society, Family Life Food, Household effects, Dress and Ornaments. Marriage and Position of Women, Pastime and Recreations, Social Evils and other Miscellaneous items of social interest. Here the evidence provided by the Bharhut sculptures depicting the life of the people is also taken into account. The Bhasyakara was anxious to preserve the purity of the Brahmanas but he has referred to certain mixed castes which can be checked up with the information given by Manu. The social standard was fairly high, as may be judged by the information regarding food, dress and ornaments etc. contained in the Mahabhasya and corroborated by sculptures. The ladies seem to have enjoyed codsiderable freedom. Pastime and recreations varying natu- rally, according to the age and popular taste, included dramatic performances, playing on musical instruments, magic shows, and the game of dice with sundry items. The evils in the social life have also been duly noticed.



Preface to the Third Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition


Chapter 1

Patanjali's Time
The two Patanjalis and their Identity
Patanjali's Parentage and Birthplace


Chapter 2

Ancestry of the Sungas
Dynastic History
The Vidarbha Affair
Confrontation with the Yavanas and the Second Horse Sacrifice
The supposed Invasion of Kharavela
The Extent of Pusyamitra's Empire
Pusyamitra's Successors
Sunga Feudatories
The Kanvayanas
Dynasties of the Gangetic Plain
Some of the Contemporary Tribes
The Andhras


Chapter 3

Conception of the Country
Physical Geography
Political Geography
Towns and Villages


Chapter 4

Division of Society
Family Circle
Household Effects
Housing Arrangements
Hair Arrangement
Face Decoration
Marriage and Position of Women
Pastime and Recreations
Social Evils
Miscellaneous Item of Social Interest


Chapter 5

Agriculture and Husbandry
Ripening and Reaping
Other Crops
Trade Stipulations
Articles of Trade
Weights and Measures


Chapter 6

Object of Study
Subject of Study
Place and Time of Study
Methods of Study
Relations between the Preceptor and the Pupil
Different Schools - named after the teachers - Ghotras and Caranas

Fees and Period of Study
Female Education


Chapter 7

Revival of Vedic Sacrifices
Types of Vedic Sacrifices
Domestic Sacrifices
Soma Drinking
Minor Sacrifices
Priests, Accessories and Duration of Sacrifices
Vedic Gods
Post -Vedic Deities
Bhaktism-Bhagavata Cult
Ascetic Orders
Popular Religious Beliefs
Lokayatas or Materialists


Chapter 8

Vedic Literature and the Mahabhasya
Patanjali and Smrti Literature
The Mahabhasya and the Epics and the Puranas
Patanjali and the Kavya-Literature
Patanjali and Popular Literature
Patanjali and Drama
Patanjali and Philosophical Data
Medicinal and Surgical Data in the Mahabhasya
Administrative Information
Miscellaneous Data
Patanjali Style


Chapter 9

Bharhut Stupa, Railing, Toranas
Besnagar Column
Town Architectural Plan




Sample Pages

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