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Indology's Pulse Arts in Context (Essays Presented to Doris Meth Srinivasan in Admiration of Her Scholarly Research)

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Item Code: NAT944
Author: Corinna Wessels-Mevissen & Gerd J.R. Mevissen
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788173056321
Pages: 492 (48 Color & B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 12.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 2.40 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

This volume is a tribute to Professor Doris Meth Srinivasan's profound scholarship and seminal writings, to which colleagues from various countries have contributed. Their topics, often referencing Prof. Srinivasan's works, are presented from different angles of academic perspective and specialisation, namely, South Asian Art History, South Asian Architecture, Classical Indology (or Ancient Indian Philology), Archaeology, Numismatics, Cultural History, etc.

The book is prefaced with two in-depth forewords, by Professors Lokesh Chandra and Gerard Fussman. The former includes a discussion of the contents, while the latter details appreciation of Prof. Srinivasan's work and explores her subject matter and academic achievements. The honorand's complete bibliography is also provided. The chapters set out with studies of early historical periods (including pre- and protohistory). The largest section, "Investigating All Things Kushan", coincides with Prof. Srinivasan's major field of specialization, namely, Mathuran and Gandharan art. This rich terrain of cultural history and its vestiges will probably never cease to provide specialists with intriguing questions to be tackled and fresh insights to be distilled from the overall corpus of data that has come upon us. Following are the sections on Gupta-period and Medieval topics, specifically including Numismatics and Architecture. The thematic sections on female protagonists including goddesses, and "Telling Images", involving particularly painstaking case studies, conclude the volume. In terms of geography, the topics range from the Indo-Iranian region in the west to peninsular Southeast Asia in the east, with India forming the hub.

About the Author

Corinna Wessels-Mevissen is an independent researcher affiliated with the Asian Art Museum, Berlin, Germany. She studied Indian Art History, Archaeology, and Sanskrit at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitat zu Kiel and at the Freie Universitat Berlin (M.A.; Ph.D.). She served as Guest Lecturer at the former Institute of Indian Philology and Art History, Freie Universitat Berlin (2001; 2008), and as Guest Curator (2003-04) and Curator (2006-07) at the former Museum of Indian Art (since 2006 part of the Asian Art Museum, Berlin). In 2009, she was appointed One-Year Fellow at the Morphomata International Center for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne. She has authored the monograph The Gods of the Directions in Ancient India (2001) as well as various research articles on ancient Indian archaeology and art, and made contributions to exhibition catalogues and encyclopaediae.

Gerd J.R. Mevissen is an independent researcher affiliated with the Asian Art Museum, Berlin, Germany. He studied Architecture at the Technische Universitat Berlin (Dipl.-Ing. Arch.), and Indian Art History at the Freie Universitat Berlin (M.A.). He served as Lecturer at the former Institute of Indian Philology and Art History, Freie Universitat Berlin (1990-95), and as Curator at the former Museum of Indian Art, Berlin (2000-02). He is executive editor of the research journal Berliner Indologische Studien /Berlin Indological Studies (since 1995) and, formerly, of Indo-Asiatische Zeitschrifi (Berlin; 1997-2017). He has also edited several volumes of collected papers (since 1991), and has published numerous research articles on ancient Indian art and iconography (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain), often focussing on the systematic documentation of groups of minor deities, such as Navagrahas.


This Festschrift is a magnificent volume that speaks of the 'pulse' of Indology, beginning from the earliest times of the Rigveda down to the Kushans. It is a splendid tribute to the multifaceted contributions of Prof. Doris Meth Srinivasan. She has been the academic Silk Route of India's classical heritage. She has opened up new vistas of ideas and forms, social and political polarities, from the dawn of Rigvedic civilisation down to the times of Kushan emperors. She began her academic life with Concept of Cow in the Rigveda (1979,2017), a burning topic to this day. Her work on multiplicity in Indian Art gives an insight into India's aesthetic perceptions of 'space without' shimmering into 'space within'. I have read her for hours on themes like Oeso consummating progressive linkages with Siva and melding with him into one image at Tun-huang, and I have thought about themes like the Five Trisula Ensigns of the world-conquering Emperor Chinggis Khan. I have wondered with her on Visnu-Narayana, trying to comprehend whether across the centuries he became the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara in East Asia. His Sanskrit invocation was sung in Chinese pronunciation by a thousand Chinese beauties at the inauguration of the World Olympics, Shanghai 2008. It was a resounding world event in its imperial grandeur of the Tang period.

The volume begins with the ox-carts of the Kot Diji period (c. 3000 Be), a rumbling cart in the Rigveda, Brahmanas, Srauta- and Grhya-sutras, Mahabharata, down to modern Indian languages, introduced by Asko Parpola.

The terracotta images from Ropar show close resemblance to those found as far as Bengal. The writer, Arundhati Banerji, feels that they "served for inland trade or were acquired by pilgrims". The terracotta images have been described in Tibetan texts translated from Sanskrit originals. They were and are used in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and other Vajrayana areas as "votive offerings" to secure a safe journey, to beget a son, to gain affluence, to recoup health and other needs. They are termed satstsha, which is a corruption of Sanskrit sancaka 'image cast from a mould'. The Sanskrit term sancaka is recorded in the Sanskrit titles of works in the Tibetan Tanjur. Terracotta images call for a study based on the texts related to them in the Tibetan Tanjur.

Corinna Wessels-Mevissen discusses the fascinating Sphinx-like bronze figure in the Asian Art Museum, Berlin. As she rightly points out, it is inspired by foreign artworks, with its unusual headgear. These sphinx-like figures come from dominantly Buddhist sites like Begram, Sanchi, Bharhut and Kaushambi, which were frequented by foreign pilgrims and monks as outstanding centres of sanctity and learning. They might have been votive offerings to preclude negative destinies, and may have even been brought from outside India.

Vrsnis in art and literature by Vinay Kumar Gupta is a fascinating survey of the Vrsni cult and the role of Lord Krsna who is a Yadava. The Yadus are mentioned repeatedly in the Rigveda in conjunction with Turvasa. Vrsni means 'mighty, powerful', and as such their sealings from Sunet hold symbols of power: musala, gada, cakra and sankha. Such sealings were sacred talismans. Such amulets in a little box (Tib. gahu) are worn suspended around the neck by Tibetans. There are several Tibetan texts on the casting and rituals of the sancaka amulets.

David W MacDowall deals with the coinage of the Kushans, their mints, metrology and use of Roman gold for their dinaras. The coins speak of the flourishing trade across the sands and oceans, besides the tolls and levies across the vast Kushan empire. This study of Kushan numismatics is a continuation of the fundamental contributions of Prof. Doris Srinivasan to the understanding of Kushan art.

The Kushans fascinate historians as a dynamic cultural power who created a pan-Asian Buddhist cosmopolis. They were evidently proud of their west Iranian roots. Kaniska discontinued the use of Greek and adopted his Aryobhaso (now called Bactrian) as the language of the state. Yueh-chih (also written Yueh-shih) is pronounced Gesshi in Japanese. Gesshi comes close to Gusana, a variant of Kusana. In them the main word is Kusa/Gusa to which the topographic suffix °an has been added (as in Ir-an, Bamiy-an). Kusadvipa refers to the Kushan dominions. Kusa/Gusa was sanskritised as Ghosa, Asvaghosa is shown in Japanese iconographic manuals of the 12th century as riding a horse. He could have been a Kushan (ghosa). The great Pali commentator Buddhaghosa was born in a Brahmana family of Uttarapatha (Geiger 1943: 28) or TransGandhara and should have been of Kushan extraction. The Ghosh of Bengal are kayasthas, i.e. persons serving (stha) the king (kaya/kai =Kavi). The word kayastha occurs for the first time in a Kushan inscription.

Shoshin Kuwayama opines that as "Gandhara was distant from Sakyamuni in terms of time and space", the Gandharans tried to create strong ties with Sakyamuni. They had his alms bowl as well as his corporeal relics. They established four great stupas in commemoration of his Birth, Enlightenment, First Sermon and Parinirvana. All these great events had happened in east India, in their ardent pursuit of ties with Sakyamuni they duplicated them in Gandhara. Kuwayama points out that the anthropomorphic image of Sakyamuni was transmitted from Gandhara to mainland India. The Mahavastu mentions three predecessor Buddhas (purima Buddha) of Sakyamuni: Krakucchanda, Kasyapa and Bhama-Konakamana, Bhama is Bamiyan. Konaka is from Tocharian kom 'sun' (loc. sg. konam, dat.sg. konam) and Tocharian A man 'moon', thematised as mana for declension in Sanskrit. Suryacandra is the name of a person in the Kathasaritsagara. The sun and the moon were the symbols of royal power in Central Asia. Thus, the immediate predecessor of Sakyamuni may have been from Bamiyan in Gandhara.

Pia Brancaccio studies the lexicon of the stupa base in Gandhara, which echoes the sacred symbolism of the purnaghata, srivatsa, etc. beside Hellenic images of Herakles and Aphrodite. Greeks and Gandharans worshipped Sakyamuni, with Greek gods in subordinate roles. They are placed at the entrance of the stupa, that is, as gate-keepers. The local deities were owned in subordinate positions. It was a part of the process - of interiorisation in the strategy (upaya-kausalya) of the dissemination of the Dharma. Acceptance of prevalent Greek deities expedited the spread of Buddhism in Gandhara. Padmasambhava established Buddhism in Tibet by owning the local deities (gnas.Lha) as guardians of Dharma. Divyavadana that reflects the religious milieu of Gandhara in the Kushan period says that seeing engenders faith (sraddha), which in turn engenders offering (prasada), and that translates into a donation (dana) to the monastery. It is 'visual dharma' that leads to the transcendental: the amurta.

There was conflict between Hellenism and Buddhism. It can be discerned in the conversion of Nagaraj a Apalala. Apalala-damana or the suppression and conversion of Apalala is not mentioned among the stories included in Pali Canon in the Three Councils (Sangiti). The Mahavarnsa 30.84 says that this episode was represented in the relic chamber of the Mahathupa in Sri Lanka. Sarnantapasadika 4.742 recounts the story of Apalala-damana.

In the Bhaisajyavastu (Dutt 1939) of the Mula- sarvastivada Vinaya, the Buddha proceeds from the city of Rohitaka (mod. Rohtak) to subjugate Apalala, He leaves behind Ananda and is accompanied by Vajrapani (gato 'ham iinanda vajrapani-sahaya uttarapatham). Divyavadana 348.20 says that the Buddha returned to Mathura after converting (viniya) Apalala. Further on (385.3) it says that before his parinirvana, the Buddha converted (damayitva) the naga, reached Mathura and called Ananda. The conversion is referred to in the manjuri-mula-kalpa 18.12 and in the Atanatiya- sutra (Hoernle 1916: 27). In Samadhiraja-sutra Apalala Nagaraja stands in the sky, with flowers and jewels in his hand to honour the Buddha: Mahamayuri 221.24, 247.3' lists Apalala among the names of nagas.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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