This book contains sixteen essays on different aspects of Indian art, iconography and numismatics. The first one deals with the literary history of Svayambhu Brahma, the god of creation, referring to his earliest representations in stone and clay, pushing back the antiquity of his portrayal to second century bce on numismatic evidence and delineating his different roles as known through sculptural art. Numerous terracottas of different types from Sugh near Yamunanagar in Haryana published here will establish its place comparable to Ahichchhatra, Kaushambi and Mathura. The site has yielded evidence of the earliest portrayal and deification of Rama and Hanuman, the former corroborated by numismatic evidence also going back to second century bce. Glyptics from Sanghol prove that the multiplication of hands of Siva started in the Parthian period and also portray the god as holding trident and sword. Sword in Siva’s hand at such an early period is a rare occurrence and has been explained with reference to literary evidence from the Mahabharata. Terracotta figurines of Mahishamardini from Haryana indicate her popularity in the region through the centuries and the changes in her artistic representations. Bachoonch in Himachal preserves a very rare sculpture of Mahishamardini killing the demon in human form with buffalo totally absent in the relief. Relics from Ahrwan in Palwal district show that it was an important Buddhist centre during the Kushan period. Terracottas from Agroha establish it as a great religious and art centre in the early period. Evidence of itinerant artists is provided by Gupta image of Jaina yaksha Parsva from village Murti in the Salt Range in Pakistan. Evidence of the popularity of the epics in Haryana comes to us from the early medieval depiction of epic scenes from a lost temple at Pehowa, the ancient Prithudaka. Hat Koti in Himachal has preserved an unusual image of Vishnu. The importance of auspiciousness of tortoise, lotus and conch as enunciated in literature, thought and art has been brought out in the next three essays. Glyptics from Kurukshetra have brought to light the artistic form of hitherto unknown deity Sannihitadevi mentioned in the Mahabharata. Very rare images of Satyavan-Savitri and Ardhanarisvara form the subject matter of the last two essays. Facts and statements have been substantiated, documented and illustrated with 49 line-drawings and 163 plates. Bibliography and Index enhance the usability of the work further.
Devendra Handa is an eminent art historian and numismatist. He is the recipient of Sir Mortimer Wheeler Prize; Maulana Azad, Archaeological Centenary Commemoration, Pt. Bhagwanlal Indraji and Nelson Wright medals; N.M. Lowick grant (twice in 1992 and 2005) of the Royal Numismatic Society, London; Fellowship of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (2000-2003), Senior Fellowship (Numismatics) of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India (2003-05) and Senior Academic Fellowship of the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi (2009-11). He presided over the 88th Annual Conference of the Numismatic Society of India at Nagpur in 2004; Seminar on Coinage of the North-West India at Chandigarh in 2005; Annual Session of the Centre for History, Archaeology, Epigraphy and Numismatics of the University of Mumbai in 2018 and Annual Session of the Indian Art History Congress at Patiala in 2019. The Numismatic Society of India, the Indian Coin Society and the Gwalior Chapter of INTACH; Numismatic Research Institute, Nagpur and the International Collectors’ Society of Rare Items, Pune have bestowed upon him Lifetime Achievement Awards. Haryana Institute of Fine Arts honoured him with Karmayogi Samman in 2011-12 and the Buddhist Society of Haryana felicitated him for his contribution to Buddhist studies in the state in that year. He has attended numerous national and international conferences and delivered lectures in various universities, museums and research institutes. He has contributed articles, research papers, notes, etc. to various national and international journals; to the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism of the Indian Heritage Research Foundation, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh; various felicitation and commemoration volumes and some chapters to the eleven-volume series ‘A History of Ancient India’ being published by the Vivekananda International Foundation and Aryan Books International. Presently he is the chief Editor of the Numismatic Digest.
As a student and teacher I used to feel happy to go through some of the works of Drs. V.S. Agrawala, D.C. Sircar and V.V. Mirashi who had put into book form many of their research papers published earlier in various journals which generally were not available in the library. Queries from some friends about my articles on certain subjects and their non-availability to many of them has prompted me to put some important papers together and go in for their publication in book form. I remember that when I got published my Studies in Indian Coins and Seals in 1985 and sent the volume to Prof. Ajay Mitra Shastri, he was very happy that all my important articles on numismatics were available to him in the book and he need not search them in different journals.
The present volume contains sixteen papers; Nos. I, XII-XIII and XV are published here for the first time. Others were published over the years in different research journals. No. II appeared in Kala, The Journal of the Indian Art History Congress, Vol. XVI, 2010-2011, pp. 8-24 with 8 plates and has been revised to include better and more illustrations. No. III was published in The Journal of the Gujarat Research Society, Dr. Bharati Shelat Commemoration Volume, LXIII, 2018, pp. 79-84 while IV was originally included in Kala, XVII, pp. 1-7 with only two plates. It has been revised to include more plates here. No. V formed part of Mani-Mahesh, A Journal of Himalayan Studies, Shimla, Vol. V, 2014, pp. 56-63. No. VI appeared in Puratattva, No. 40 (2010), pp. 205-07 and VII was published in Pragdhara, No. 25 (2015-16), pp. 89-102. Nos. VIII and IX appeared in Kala, XXIV (2018-19), 11-13 and XV (2009-10), 23-34, the latter with 8 plates but the number of plates here has been increased to illustrate more images. No. XIV too appeared in the same journal, Vol. XXI (2015-16), 22-25. No. X formed part of Pragdhara, 20 (2009-10), 181-83. Nos. XI and XVI were published in Jnana-Pravaha Research Journal, XIX (2015-16), 23-53 and XXI (2017-18), 5-11 respectively. I express my thanks to the editors and relevant authorities of these journals for their kind permission to include them in the present volume. For the text-figures I express my gratitude to Drs. P.K. Agrawala, D.C. Bhattacharyya, G. Sethuraman and A.L. Srivastava. My grateful thanks are due to Sarvashri R.K. Aggarwal, R.C. Agrawala, Rameshwar Das, Sabya Sachi Ghosh, Madhurika Maheshwari, C.B. Patil; Good Ideas; Gurukula Museum, Jhajjar; Department of Archaeology and Museums, Rajasthan; State Museum, Shimla; Christies' Auction, Todywalla Auction, Oswal Auction, Bombay Auction, Marudhar Auction, Classical Numismatic Gallery; Drs. Osmund Bopearachchi, Devangana Desai, K.K. Maheshwari, P. Pal; internet/ Face book/Wikipedia, and others for the photo-scans used in this work. Drs. Satya Vrat Varma (Ganganagar, Rajasthan), C.S. Gupta (Nagpur), Manmohan Kumar (Rohtak) and Hari Chauhan (Shimla) helped me in various ways. For some plates I have used the scans of coins belonging to or illustrated by Drs. Bopearachchi, Wilfried Pieper, Shailendra Bhandare, S.K. Bhatt, M.K. Gupta, Sarvashri Girish Sharma, Ganesh Nene, Badri Prasad Verma, Sharad Sharma, and numerous other friends to who all I express my gratitude. It will be mere formality to thank my son Tushar Handa for his help in all my problems related to computer matters. Last, but not the least, my most cordial gratitude to the great scholar and humanist Padma Bhushan Dr. R. Nagaswamy for his encouragements and inspiration in my academic endeavours. Shri Vikas Arya and his team has put in hard labour to bring out this work beautifully. I only am responsible for all errors of omission and commission.
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