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Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India: Ten Interpretive Studies
Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India: Ten Interpretive Studies
Description

From The Jacket

This volume presents new perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences on some of the Most important and enduring "individuals" and "ideas" in pre-modern India. It is hoped that they will prove of interest and some value to the general reader, as well as to the scholar, and will encourage them to pursue these topics further with the aid of notes, references, and bibliographies.

The power of ideas and significance of those whose give expression to them is neither overlooked nor minimized by good students of history. However, different kinds of ideas and individuals seem to emerge to the fore in different cultural traditions. These differ as do their preferences. One has to study each culture within its own context in order to appreciate and understand it fully. The present volume is devoted to such a study of traditional India. It includes ten contributions by as many scholars.

It treats of "individuals" such as Visvamitra, Bhrgu, the Buddha, Carvaka, the only female Jina Malli of the Jainas, Bidpai, Caitanya, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and Swami Bhaktivedanta, to mention only the main figures. "Ideas" such as dissent, the miraculous, being superhuman, chastity, sati, spirit possession, ahimsa, asceticism, and bhakti are of perennial interest to those interested in India and its diverse cultural historical experiences.

About The Author

Jagdish Prasad Sharma (b. 1934) received his Ph. D. degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London under the supervision of Dr. A. L. Basham. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Virginia and American University. He has also been a visiting Professor at Banaras Hindu University, the universities of Rajasthan and Allahabad. At present he is Professor of Indian/South Asian History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu since 1964. Dr. Sharma is best known for his work Republics in Ancient India (Leiden, 1968). He has also published a study with Professor Lee Siegel, Dream-Symbolism in the Sramanic Tradition: tow Psychoanalytic Studies (Calcutta, 1980) and Individuals and Ideas in Modern India. (Calcutta, 1982).

Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India

This volume presents new perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences on some of the most important and enduring "individuals" and "ideas" in pre-modern India. It is hoped that they will prove of interest and some value to the general reader, as well as to the scholar, and will encourage them to pursue these topics further with the aid of notes, references, and bibliographies.

The power of ideas and significance of those who give expression to them is neither overlooked nor minimized by good students of history. However, different kinds of ideas and individuals seem to emerge to the fore in different cultural traditions. These differ as do their preferences. One has to study each culture within its own context in order to appreciate and understand it fully. The present volume is devoted to such a study of traditional India. It includes ten contributions by as many scholars.

It treats of "individuals" such as Visvamitra, Bhrgu, the Buddha, Carvaka, the only female Jina Malli of the Jainas, Bidpai, Caitanya, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and Swami Bhaktivedanta, to mention only the main figures. "Ideas" such as dissent, the miraculous, being superhuman, chastity, sati, spirit possession, ahimsa, asceticism, and bhakti are of perennial interest to those interested in India and its diverse cultural historical experiences.

Jagdish Prasad Sharma (b. 1934) received his Ph. D. degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London under the supervision of Dr. A. L. Basham. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Virginia and American University. He ha also been a Visiting Professor at Banaras Hindu University, the universities of Rajasthan and Allahabad. At present he is Professor of Indian/South Asian History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu since 1964 Dr. Sharma is best known for his work Republics in Ancient India (Leiden, 1968). He has also published a study with Professor Lee Siegel, Dream-Symbolism in the Sramanic Tradition: Two Psychoanalytic Studies (Calcutta, 1980) and Individuals and Ideas in Modern India (Calcutta, 1982)

Preface

The present volume, Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India, is a follow-up to the previous one, Individuals and Ideas in Modern India published by Firma KLM, Calcutta, 1982. It is a collaborative effort, like the earlier one, and includes contributions from both Humanists and Social Scientists. All the contributors command mastery over one or more of the Oriental languages and all of them have had first hand field experience in India or Nepal. Some of them were born and educated in India. Amongst them, they represent a number of disciplines such as history, literature, religion, mythology, sociology and anthropology. Four of the contributors are the editor's former students and one is a colleague at the University of Hawaii. Others come from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; the Australian National University, Canberra; and Rajshahi University, Bangladesh.

Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India deals largely with the traditional period, i.e., from the arrival of the Aryans in the subcontinent around 2000 BC. Though some of the contributions spilled over into the twentieth century, they were mainly dealing with the traditional material.

This volume presents perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences on some of the most important "individuals" and "ideas" in India. One paper exclusively deals with Nepal. It is hoped that they will prove of interest and some value to the general reader as well as the scholar, and will encourage them to pursue these topics further with the aid of notes, references, and bibliographies.

I have tried to standardize the names, spellings and references; still the Humanists and the Social Scientists follow two different styles of citations. Some of them assign different dates to certain texts, e.g., the Rgveda. The authors of different papers are responsible for their own statements, and they have generally given their reasons for them. But the editor who differs with some of these interpretations has refrained from altering them. Thus the reader may find divergent views on the same topic in this volume, which is fine and reflects scholarly refinement and freedom-hallmark of all such original studies.

In the overall planning and editing of this volume, my wife, Dr. Mimi Sharma, has been of great help as have my children, Arun and Nitasha, who have most often patiently put up with my absences. I'm grateful to them. I'd also like to thank my publisher, Devendra Jain and my colleague Professor Rama Nath Sharma, Chair of Indo-Pacific Languages at the University of Hawaii. I must also record my appreciation to Professors Ketayan H. Could and Amarjit Singh of Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada for urging me on to complete this undertaking. I'll also like to thank my friend and fellow historian, T.B. Lam for encouragement and proof-reading. The editor is most appreciative of their help, interest and encouragement.

Introduction

Lewis Henry Morgan wrote that "the substance of human history is bound up in the growth of ideas, which are wrought out by the people and expressed in their institutions, usages, inventions and discoveries." The power of ideas and significance of those who give expression to them is neither overlooked nor minimized by good students of history. However, different kinds of ideas and individuals seem to emerge to the fore in different cultural traditions. Whereas, "a man on horseback" may appeal to the French, Germans, and Italians, it is a consensus man who wins the hearts of the Japanese and the Chinese. The ideas of innovation and individualism may appeal to the Greeks, Western Europeans and Americans; but it is the traditional, the family or the group that arouse the sensibilities of the Jews, Arabs, Chinese, Japanese and the Indians. The Japanese samurai committed to the bushido, freely indulged in the gentler arts of the tea ceremony, flower arrangement (ikebana) and the company of the most cultivated women, the geishas. One could not expect such arts appealing to the medieval European knight with his own code of chivalry, or the Indian intellectual elite who extolled the virtues of self-denial and renunciation. A man of religion had a special place in the Indian, Tibetan, Persian/ Islamic and Jewish societies; while not so in those of the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. So cultures differ as do their preferences. One has to study each culture in its own context in .order to fully appreciate and understand it.

The present volume is devoted to such a study of traditional India. It includes ten contributions by as many scholars. They belong to six different universities, though the majority of them, to the University of Hawaii, and some of them have studied with the editor. They treat important "individuals" such as Visvamitra, Bhrgu, the Buddha, Carvaka, the only female Jaina hero (Jina) Malli. jayarasi, Bidpai, Caitanya, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Bhaktivedanta to mention only the main figures.

Among the major "ideas" discussed here include the miraculous, superhuman, supernatural, chastity, renunciation, dissent, sati (suttee-popular spelling with the medievalists), spirit-possession, cow-protection, vegetarianism, asceticism, ahimsa, and bhakti. Seven of the contributors are mainly humanists, while three are social scientists. Three of the authors are Americans, four Indians (though all of them teaching at American universities) one Australian of Belgian origin, one Bangladeshi scholar teaching in his own country, and one English-with an American father, but very British, nonetheless.

Though spanning some four millennia, the topics dealt with here are of perennial interest to all those studying traditional India. Each interpretive essay deals with a significant idea or individual in traditional India which, it is hoped, will add something new to existing historical analyses.

The main purpose in collecting these papers is to provide new perspectives by involving a number of scholars. The authors had written these papers initially for a seminar, dissertation, or a conference, while others form portions of books in preparation. Some of the contributions were specifically prepared for this volume. The papers give a feel for the breadth and diversity of the Indian historical experience as was the case with our previous volume on modern India.

The first and the longest paper specially prepared for this volume by Dr. Priti Kumar Mitra of Rajshahi University, Bangladesh, critically treats of "Dissent in Ancient India." He maintains that a vigorous tradition of dissent and protest is one of the factors responsible for change and diversity in Indian civilization. A number of outstanding dissenters contributed to the dynamics of ancient Indian thought, he says. Some of them like the Buddha and Mahavira became founders of heterodox systems while others remained individual dissenters and left things open-ended for still others to consider.

The Vedas, the Epics, and the Puranas all contain a number of myths that reflect the spirit of dissent as it characterized the culture of the rsis. Mahidasa Aitareya, Visvamitra, and Bhrgu are some of the great rsis whose fight against the orthodoxy of the Brahmanas and supremacy of the gods has been the theme of a number of such myths.

In the Upanisadic period (c. 800-600 BC) the dissenting voice of a number of non-conforming rsis led to dialectics that marked the beginning of Indian philosophy. The most significant amongst them is the dialectic between the materialist Uddalaka and idealist Yajnavalkya. More emphatic was the outright materialism of the Lokayata school that had its roots in the Rgveda itself and culminated in the comprehensive denials of philosopher Carvaka in the sixth century BC.

These revolts against the Vedic-Brahmanic orthodoxy paved the way for the rise of the Great Heresies in the sixth and fifth centuries before Christ. Jainism, Ajivikism, and Buddhism started with the dissent of their respective founders who offered complete alternatives to the established order. This characteristic turned them into heterodoxies which, along with the Vedic-Brahmanic orthodoxy, came to dominate Indian life in subsequent centuries.

But then a string of skeptics, agnostics, atomists, antenomians, hedonists, and nihilists would always be there to raise the banner of disbelief and discordance against the orthodox and heterodox systems alike. jabali, Ajita, Sanjaya. jayarasi and other nastikas, deniers, kept the tradition of individualist intellectual dissent alive down to the seventh century which almost marks the end of the ancient period in Indian history.

The second contribution dealing with the miraculous, super-human and supernormal in early Buddhism comes from the pen of the most prolific historian of ancient India writing in America, Professor Balkrishna Govind Gokhale of the Wake Forest University. There are scholars who maintain that Buddhism was "entirely a rational system," while others hold that it gradually "acquired irrational matters." Not so, asserts Professor Gokhale, who states that "there is little doubt that the Buddha himself accepted the concept of iddhi, superhuman, supernormal, or miraculous power, to be secured through meditative exercises." The Buddha only insisted that such powers may not be used to claim a spiritually exalted status approaching the divine. He adds that it must not be forgotten that however he may be ahead of his age in proposing ethical solutions to human problems, the Buddha, in one respect, belonged to his age. He shared, at least to an extent, the value system of that age that implicitly accepted the validity of superhuman, supernormal and miraculous powers by human beings of a very special kind. And Gotama, the Buddha, was a human being of this very special kind.

The third paper, written by the editor, deals with "Malli: The Jina Extraordinaire of Jainism." It is based primarily on the encyclopaedic work on Jaina heroes written by the twelfth century Jaina scholar monk, Hemachandra. Malli was the only female among the sixty-three heroes in this epic of the Svetarnbaras. Here, Hemachandra treats of these heroes by dividing them into five categories. Twenty-four heroes, called the Jinas, i.e., conquerors, not of territories or kingdoms, but spiritual conquerors of passions and obstacles which block their path to Jina-hood and perfection (kaivalyam), make up this group. They are also called Tirthankaras, i.e., "builders of the ford" which leads across the river of life. They comprise the most important category of the heroes:

The Jainas, despite their democratic pretensions like the Buddhists, seem to show a clear preference for the male among their heroes. Even when selecting a woman to belong to this most important class, they seem to punish her for being female. In patriarchy, even when some women are given a "sacred" and "heroic" character, they still suffer from disabilities imposed upon them by their male creators-their "fathers", so to say. It would be most interesting, suggests the author in conclusion, to compare Jina Malli with the figure of a male hero that might exist in Amazonian or matriarchal societies, in order to understand the male-female psychology regarding heroes in culture.

The next contribution, by Professor Waiter Maurer, discusses "The fables of Bidpai: The story of their origin in India and their universal diffusion." Professor Maurer, the noted Sanskritist at the University of Hawaii, commands mastery over all the major Indo-European languages as well as Arabic, Persian and Egyptian. It is only natural that he should choose to discuss such a topic. "In the history of literature," he starts, "there is scarcely to be imagined a more remarkable phenomenon than the diffusion of the stories popularly called 'The Fables of Bidpai' throughout the world." The fables to which he refers are stories where, for the most part, animals play the part of human beings, "behaving in all respects as they do. This collection of fables ultimately originated in India-from the Pancatantra and were composed "certainly not later than c. AD 500." The specific purpose of these stories was to inculcate seemly and ethical behaviour in princes that would be appropriate to the conduct of the internal and external affairs of their kingdom.

Contents
  Preface ix
  Contributors xi
  Introduction xvii
1 Priti Kumar Mitra  
  Dissent in Ancient India 1
2 Balkrishna Govind Gokhale  
  The Miraculous, Superhuman and Superpersonal in Early Buddhism 49
3 Jagdish P. Sharma  
  Malli: The Jina Extraordinaire of Jainism 64
4 Walter H. Maurer  
  The Fables of Bidpai: The Story of Their Origin in India and Universal Diffusion 76
5 Julie Trott  
  A Burning Question: Why does the Hindu Husband want His Wife to be Sati?  
6 Surojit M. Gupta  
  Suttee: The Rite of Widow-Burning in Medieval India 111
7 Joseph T. F. Jordens  
  Gandhi and Dayananda: The Kathiawari Background of Two Great Indian 151
8 Ketayun H. Gould  
  A Perspective on the Parsis: The Minority-Majority 167
9 Gregory G. Maskarinec  
  A Choice of Vehicles: Spirit Intercessors of Jajarkot District, Nepal 204
10 Charles R. Brooks  
  The Meaning of Vrindaban: The Textual and Historical Development of a Sacred Pilgrimage Town 232

 

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Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India: Ten Interpretive Studies

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From The Jacket

This volume presents new perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences on some of the Most important and enduring "individuals" and "ideas" in pre-modern India. It is hoped that they will prove of interest and some value to the general reader, as well as to the scholar, and will encourage them to pursue these topics further with the aid of notes, references, and bibliographies.

The power of ideas and significance of those whose give expression to them is neither overlooked nor minimized by good students of history. However, different kinds of ideas and individuals seem to emerge to the fore in different cultural traditions. These differ as do their preferences. One has to study each culture within its own context in order to appreciate and understand it fully. The present volume is devoted to such a study of traditional India. It includes ten contributions by as many scholars.

It treats of "individuals" such as Visvamitra, Bhrgu, the Buddha, Carvaka, the only female Jina Malli of the Jainas, Bidpai, Caitanya, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and Swami Bhaktivedanta, to mention only the main figures. "Ideas" such as dissent, the miraculous, being superhuman, chastity, sati, spirit possession, ahimsa, asceticism, and bhakti are of perennial interest to those interested in India and its diverse cultural historical experiences.

About The Author

Jagdish Prasad Sharma (b. 1934) received his Ph. D. degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London under the supervision of Dr. A. L. Basham. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Virginia and American University. He has also been a visiting Professor at Banaras Hindu University, the universities of Rajasthan and Allahabad. At present he is Professor of Indian/South Asian History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu since 1964. Dr. Sharma is best known for his work Republics in Ancient India (Leiden, 1968). He has also published a study with Professor Lee Siegel, Dream-Symbolism in the Sramanic Tradition: tow Psychoanalytic Studies (Calcutta, 1980) and Individuals and Ideas in Modern India. (Calcutta, 1982).

Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India

This volume presents new perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences on some of the most important and enduring "individuals" and "ideas" in pre-modern India. It is hoped that they will prove of interest and some value to the general reader, as well as to the scholar, and will encourage them to pursue these topics further with the aid of notes, references, and bibliographies.

The power of ideas and significance of those who give expression to them is neither overlooked nor minimized by good students of history. However, different kinds of ideas and individuals seem to emerge to the fore in different cultural traditions. These differ as do their preferences. One has to study each culture within its own context in order to appreciate and understand it fully. The present volume is devoted to such a study of traditional India. It includes ten contributions by as many scholars.

It treats of "individuals" such as Visvamitra, Bhrgu, the Buddha, Carvaka, the only female Jina Malli of the Jainas, Bidpai, Caitanya, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and Swami Bhaktivedanta, to mention only the main figures. "Ideas" such as dissent, the miraculous, being superhuman, chastity, sati, spirit possession, ahimsa, asceticism, and bhakti are of perennial interest to those interested in India and its diverse cultural historical experiences.

Jagdish Prasad Sharma (b. 1934) received his Ph. D. degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London under the supervision of Dr. A. L. Basham. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Virginia and American University. He ha also been a Visiting Professor at Banaras Hindu University, the universities of Rajasthan and Allahabad. At present he is Professor of Indian/South Asian History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu since 1964 Dr. Sharma is best known for his work Republics in Ancient India (Leiden, 1968). He has also published a study with Professor Lee Siegel, Dream-Symbolism in the Sramanic Tradition: Two Psychoanalytic Studies (Calcutta, 1980) and Individuals and Ideas in Modern India (Calcutta, 1982)

Preface

The present volume, Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India, is a follow-up to the previous one, Individuals and Ideas in Modern India published by Firma KLM, Calcutta, 1982. It is a collaborative effort, like the earlier one, and includes contributions from both Humanists and Social Scientists. All the contributors command mastery over one or more of the Oriental languages and all of them have had first hand field experience in India or Nepal. Some of them were born and educated in India. Amongst them, they represent a number of disciplines such as history, literature, religion, mythology, sociology and anthropology. Four of the contributors are the editor's former students and one is a colleague at the University of Hawaii. Others come from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; the Australian National University, Canberra; and Rajshahi University, Bangladesh.

Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India deals largely with the traditional period, i.e., from the arrival of the Aryans in the subcontinent around 2000 BC. Though some of the contributions spilled over into the twentieth century, they were mainly dealing with the traditional material.

This volume presents perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences on some of the most important "individuals" and "ideas" in India. One paper exclusively deals with Nepal. It is hoped that they will prove of interest and some value to the general reader as well as the scholar, and will encourage them to pursue these topics further with the aid of notes, references, and bibliographies.

I have tried to standardize the names, spellings and references; still the Humanists and the Social Scientists follow two different styles of citations. Some of them assign different dates to certain texts, e.g., the Rgveda. The authors of different papers are responsible for their own statements, and they have generally given their reasons for them. But the editor who differs with some of these interpretations has refrained from altering them. Thus the reader may find divergent views on the same topic in this volume, which is fine and reflects scholarly refinement and freedom-hallmark of all such original studies.

In the overall planning and editing of this volume, my wife, Dr. Mimi Sharma, has been of great help as have my children, Arun and Nitasha, who have most often patiently put up with my absences. I'm grateful to them. I'd also like to thank my publisher, Devendra Jain and my colleague Professor Rama Nath Sharma, Chair of Indo-Pacific Languages at the University of Hawaii. I must also record my appreciation to Professors Ketayan H. Could and Amarjit Singh of Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada for urging me on to complete this undertaking. I'll also like to thank my friend and fellow historian, T.B. Lam for encouragement and proof-reading. The editor is most appreciative of their help, interest and encouragement.

Introduction

Lewis Henry Morgan wrote that "the substance of human history is bound up in the growth of ideas, which are wrought out by the people and expressed in their institutions, usages, inventions and discoveries." The power of ideas and significance of those who give expression to them is neither overlooked nor minimized by good students of history. However, different kinds of ideas and individuals seem to emerge to the fore in different cultural traditions. Whereas, "a man on horseback" may appeal to the French, Germans, and Italians, it is a consensus man who wins the hearts of the Japanese and the Chinese. The ideas of innovation and individualism may appeal to the Greeks, Western Europeans and Americans; but it is the traditional, the family or the group that arouse the sensibilities of the Jews, Arabs, Chinese, Japanese and the Indians. The Japanese samurai committed to the bushido, freely indulged in the gentler arts of the tea ceremony, flower arrangement (ikebana) and the company of the most cultivated women, the geishas. One could not expect such arts appealing to the medieval European knight with his own code of chivalry, or the Indian intellectual elite who extolled the virtues of self-denial and renunciation. A man of religion had a special place in the Indian, Tibetan, Persian/ Islamic and Jewish societies; while not so in those of the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. So cultures differ as do their preferences. One has to study each culture in its own context in .order to fully appreciate and understand it.

The present volume is devoted to such a study of traditional India. It includes ten contributions by as many scholars. They belong to six different universities, though the majority of them, to the University of Hawaii, and some of them have studied with the editor. They treat important "individuals" such as Visvamitra, Bhrgu, the Buddha, Carvaka, the only female Jaina hero (Jina) Malli. jayarasi, Bidpai, Caitanya, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Bhaktivedanta to mention only the main figures.

Among the major "ideas" discussed here include the miraculous, superhuman, supernatural, chastity, renunciation, dissent, sati (suttee-popular spelling with the medievalists), spirit-possession, cow-protection, vegetarianism, asceticism, ahimsa, and bhakti. Seven of the contributors are mainly humanists, while three are social scientists. Three of the authors are Americans, four Indians (though all of them teaching at American universities) one Australian of Belgian origin, one Bangladeshi scholar teaching in his own country, and one English-with an American father, but very British, nonetheless.

Though spanning some four millennia, the topics dealt with here are of perennial interest to all those studying traditional India. Each interpretive essay deals with a significant idea or individual in traditional India which, it is hoped, will add something new to existing historical analyses.

The main purpose in collecting these papers is to provide new perspectives by involving a number of scholars. The authors had written these papers initially for a seminar, dissertation, or a conference, while others form portions of books in preparation. Some of the contributions were specifically prepared for this volume. The papers give a feel for the breadth and diversity of the Indian historical experience as was the case with our previous volume on modern India.

The first and the longest paper specially prepared for this volume by Dr. Priti Kumar Mitra of Rajshahi University, Bangladesh, critically treats of "Dissent in Ancient India." He maintains that a vigorous tradition of dissent and protest is one of the factors responsible for change and diversity in Indian civilization. A number of outstanding dissenters contributed to the dynamics of ancient Indian thought, he says. Some of them like the Buddha and Mahavira became founders of heterodox systems while others remained individual dissenters and left things open-ended for still others to consider.

The Vedas, the Epics, and the Puranas all contain a number of myths that reflect the spirit of dissent as it characterized the culture of the rsis. Mahidasa Aitareya, Visvamitra, and Bhrgu are some of the great rsis whose fight against the orthodoxy of the Brahmanas and supremacy of the gods has been the theme of a number of such myths.

In the Upanisadic period (c. 800-600 BC) the dissenting voice of a number of non-conforming rsis led to dialectics that marked the beginning of Indian philosophy. The most significant amongst them is the dialectic between the materialist Uddalaka and idealist Yajnavalkya. More emphatic was the outright materialism of the Lokayata school that had its roots in the Rgveda itself and culminated in the comprehensive denials of philosopher Carvaka in the sixth century BC.

These revolts against the Vedic-Brahmanic orthodoxy paved the way for the rise of the Great Heresies in the sixth and fifth centuries before Christ. Jainism, Ajivikism, and Buddhism started with the dissent of their respective founders who offered complete alternatives to the established order. This characteristic turned them into heterodoxies which, along with the Vedic-Brahmanic orthodoxy, came to dominate Indian life in subsequent centuries.

But then a string of skeptics, agnostics, atomists, antenomians, hedonists, and nihilists would always be there to raise the banner of disbelief and discordance against the orthodox and heterodox systems alike. jabali, Ajita, Sanjaya. jayarasi and other nastikas, deniers, kept the tradition of individualist intellectual dissent alive down to the seventh century which almost marks the end of the ancient period in Indian history.

The second contribution dealing with the miraculous, super-human and supernormal in early Buddhism comes from the pen of the most prolific historian of ancient India writing in America, Professor Balkrishna Govind Gokhale of the Wake Forest University. There are scholars who maintain that Buddhism was "entirely a rational system," while others hold that it gradually "acquired irrational matters." Not so, asserts Professor Gokhale, who states that "there is little doubt that the Buddha himself accepted the concept of iddhi, superhuman, supernormal, or miraculous power, to be secured through meditative exercises." The Buddha only insisted that such powers may not be used to claim a spiritually exalted status approaching the divine. He adds that it must not be forgotten that however he may be ahead of his age in proposing ethical solutions to human problems, the Buddha, in one respect, belonged to his age. He shared, at least to an extent, the value system of that age that implicitly accepted the validity of superhuman, supernormal and miraculous powers by human beings of a very special kind. And Gotama, the Buddha, was a human being of this very special kind.

The third paper, written by the editor, deals with "Malli: The Jina Extraordinaire of Jainism." It is based primarily on the encyclopaedic work on Jaina heroes written by the twelfth century Jaina scholar monk, Hemachandra. Malli was the only female among the sixty-three heroes in this epic of the Svetarnbaras. Here, Hemachandra treats of these heroes by dividing them into five categories. Twenty-four heroes, called the Jinas, i.e., conquerors, not of territories or kingdoms, but spiritual conquerors of passions and obstacles which block their path to Jina-hood and perfection (kaivalyam), make up this group. They are also called Tirthankaras, i.e., "builders of the ford" which leads across the river of life. They comprise the most important category of the heroes:

The Jainas, despite their democratic pretensions like the Buddhists, seem to show a clear preference for the male among their heroes. Even when selecting a woman to belong to this most important class, they seem to punish her for being female. In patriarchy, even when some women are given a "sacred" and "heroic" character, they still suffer from disabilities imposed upon them by their male creators-their "fathers", so to say. It would be most interesting, suggests the author in conclusion, to compare Jina Malli with the figure of a male hero that might exist in Amazonian or matriarchal societies, in order to understand the male-female psychology regarding heroes in culture.

The next contribution, by Professor Waiter Maurer, discusses "The fables of Bidpai: The story of their origin in India and their universal diffusion." Professor Maurer, the noted Sanskritist at the University of Hawaii, commands mastery over all the major Indo-European languages as well as Arabic, Persian and Egyptian. It is only natural that he should choose to discuss such a topic. "In the history of literature," he starts, "there is scarcely to be imagined a more remarkable phenomenon than the diffusion of the stories popularly called 'The Fables of Bidpai' throughout the world." The fables to which he refers are stories where, for the most part, animals play the part of human beings, "behaving in all respects as they do. This collection of fables ultimately originated in India-from the Pancatantra and were composed "certainly not later than c. AD 500." The specific purpose of these stories was to inculcate seemly and ethical behaviour in princes that would be appropriate to the conduct of the internal and external affairs of their kingdom.

Contents
  Preface ix
  Contributors xi
  Introduction xvii
1 Priti Kumar Mitra  
  Dissent in Ancient India 1
2 Balkrishna Govind Gokhale  
  The Miraculous, Superhuman and Superpersonal in Early Buddhism 49
3 Jagdish P. Sharma  
  Malli: The Jina Extraordinaire of Jainism 64
4 Walter H. Maurer  
  The Fables of Bidpai: The Story of Their Origin in India and Universal Diffusion 76
5 Julie Trott  
  A Burning Question: Why does the Hindu Husband want His Wife to be Sati?  
6 Surojit M. Gupta  
  Suttee: The Rite of Widow-Burning in Medieval India 111
7 Joseph T. F. Jordens  
  Gandhi and Dayananda: The Kathiawari Background of Two Great Indian 151
8 Ketayun H. Gould  
  A Perspective on the Parsis: The Minority-Majority 167
9 Gregory G. Maskarinec  
  A Choice of Vehicles: Spirit Intercessors of Jajarkot District, Nepal 204
10 Charles R. Brooks  
  The Meaning of Vrindaban: The Textual and Historical Development of a Sacred Pilgrimage Town 232

 

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