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Books > History > Medieval > Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India
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Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India
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Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India
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About the Book

The volumes of the Project of The History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated way. In spite of their unitary look, they recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is executed by scholars with different ideological persuasions and methodological approaches and is marked by 'methodological pluralism'.

In spite of its primary historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by many scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time.that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India.

This volume deals with a variety of themes related to religion in medieval India, with a wide range of factual information, significant detail, and new ideas. Thematically, it is organized into five parts. The first part relates to continuity and change within the Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava systems. The next part deals with Krishna bhakti and its regional manifestations in Maharashtra, Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The third part focuses on Islam in its various forms while the fourth relates to the monotheistic movements, which were neither 'Hindu' nor 'Islamic' in their origins. The concluding section centres on religious institutions, especially the sacred space.

With contributions from well-known subject experts, the volume covers a large geographical canvas. It also studies major religious movements in Sikhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Islam, and other related dimensions of different faiths and religious traditions.

This volume, and others in the series, will be of special interest to students and scholars of history, philosophy, cultural studies, as well as general readers interested in the civilization and culture of India.

 

About the Author

D.P. Chattopadhyaya,MA, LLB, PhD (Calcutta and London School of Economics), DLitt (Honoris Causa), researched, studied law, philosophy, and history, and taught at various universities in India, Asia, Europe, and USA from 1954 to 1994. Founder-Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-90) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984-91), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multidisciplinary 96- volume Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization (PHISPC) and Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations (CSC). Among his thirty-five publications, authored eighteen and edited seventeen, are Individuals and Societies (1967), Individuals and Worlds (1976), Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988), Anthropology and Historiography of Science (1990), Induction, Probability and Skepticism (1991), Sociology, Ideology and Utopia (1997), Societies, Cultures and Ideologies (2000), Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilizational Dialogue (2002), and Philosophy of Science, Phenomenology and Other Essays (2003). Besides, he has also held high public offices like Union Cabinet Ministership and State Governorship.

J.S. Grewal was formerly the Chairman and Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. He was also Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He has published extensively on historiography, medieval and modem Indian history, and Sikh movement and the Punjab. His major publications include Guru Nanak in History (1969), Muslim Rule in India: The Assessments of British Historians (1970), In the By-Lanes of History: Some Persian Documents from a Punjab Town (1975), The Sikhs of the Punjab (1990), Contesting Interpretations of the Sikh Tradition (1998), and Social and Cultural History of the Punjab: Pre-historic, Ancient and Early Medieval (2004).

 

Preface

Like a score of other Editorial Fellows of the Project of History ofIndian Science, Philosophy, and Culture, I had the freedom to plan this volume according to my lights. Informal discussion with other scholars, especially Professors Indu Banga, Kumkum Sangari, and SuviraJaiswal, was immensely helpful in identifying the themes for the volume. I am grateful to them. An eminent historian who was not supposed to contribute any paper but who contributed much towards the shaping of this volume was Professor Ravinder Kumar who is no longer with us. I find some consolation in acknowledging my debt to him. I am thankful to Professors Irfan Habib, Shireen Moosvi, Satish Chandra, and Aniruddha Ray for their valuable suggestions.

A preliminary statement on a possible treatment of the subject carried the suggestion that the new religious movements of medieval India can be appreciated in relation to continuities from earlier times. A common set of aspects could be kept in mind for studying similarities and differences between the various forms of religious phenomena, like the ideology of a system as embodied in its literature, institutions based on ideas pertaining to a system, important centres and organizational networks of a system, and the social implications of its ideas and institutions. Furthermore, the social order created by a religious system could be studied in terms ofits composition and the social background of its members and their attitudes towards women and the outcaste. The attitudes of socio-religious entities towards one another could clarify issues of identity. Equally relevant could be the attitude of a socio-religious group towards the state.

I am happy to acknowledge the cooperation extended by Mr Sreekumaran S. for everything connected with the office of the director of the project. Professor Bhuvan Chandel was extremely helpful in organizing the seminars for this volume as in all other matters needing her attention as the project coordinator. Above all, I am grateful to Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya who remained readily accessible for sound advice whenever needed. It was a pleasure to work with him as the director of the project.

Ms Kuldeep Kaur Grewal provided valuable assistance formally as a research assistant and informally in her personal capacity as a scholar. Among other things, she compiled the bibliography for this volume. I thank her warmly for her help. Professor Indu Banga was associated with the volume from the very beginning. There was even the idea that she may work as joint editor, but it was not formalized. Nevertheless, she remained actively associated with all the work involved in the pursuit and completion of this volume. It is dedicated to Professor Indu Banga in deep appreciation of her long and active association with this work.

 

Introduction

The history of religion in medieval India was marked by the entry of various forms of Islam into the subcontinent, resulting in its partial Islamization and the indigenization of Islam in India. Much of the religious phenomena in India remained essentially unaffected by the presence of Islam. The old systems of religious belief and practice- Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava-continued to flourish in their traditional or modified forms. New indigenous movements arose to take into account not only the presence of Islam but also the non-Muslim systems of religious belief and practice, both old and new. All systems had their peculiar institutions related to their ideologies and purposes. A wide and varied spectrum of religious phenomena, thus, marked the medieval period of Indian history.

This volume contains twenty-four papers of varying length on a variety of themes related to religion in medieval India, with a wide range of factual information, significant detail, and new ideas. Thematically, they fall into five parts. The first part relates to continuity and change within the Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava systems. The second part relates exclusively to Krishna bhaktiin its various forms in Maharashtra, Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The third part relates to Islam in medieval India in its various forms. The fourth part relates to the monotheistic movements, which in their origins were neither 'Hindu' nor 'Islamic'. The fifth part relates to religious institutions, especially the sacred space.

The purpose of this introduction is to bring the main argument of each paper into bold relief, in its own language as far as possible, and curbing the temptation to go beyond what the author says. This overview is expected, metaphorically, to bind the volume into a framework helpful for the reader.

I
The first part of the volume consists of six papers relating to Shaiva Siddhan ta, Virashaivism, Tantrism and Shaktism, Shaktism in Himachal, Srivaishnavism, and Rama Bhakti. Almost all these religious phenomena reveal both continuity and change.

Professor R.N. Misra points out that Shaivism was never a monolith. Siddhanta was one of its numerous sects and schools. In central India, the 'genealogies' of its acharyas or munis, called 'Siddhantika', extend from the seventh to the fourteenth centuries, and their impact is clearly indicated by the allegiance invoked in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa to some of the central Indian monasteries.

Siddhanta had a distinct system of philosophy, with its three 'categories' of jiva (soul), Ishvara (Shiva), and pasha (bondage), and its four 'foundations' of knowledge (jnana), ritual practices (kirya), meditation (yoga), and discipline (charya). In its developed form, Siddhanta enunciates a perpetual difference between God and soul, signifying their mystic union as 'unity in duality'.

The movement began with the locations of ascetics in forests, signifying their state of renunciation. These locations developed later into habitats, monasteries, townships, and centres of pilgrimage, endowed with fame, wealth, and power. The princes invoked the Siddhantika's support by offering gifts and receiving initiation. Patronage appears to have been thrust on the ascetics, but it carried the implication of empowerment nonetheless. A rapid proliferation of the Siddhanta monasteries (mathas) in northern Madhya Pradesh was, in fact, related to this empowerment. The entire region appears to have come under the sway of the Siddhanta movement by the ninth century.

The monastery at Kadwaha was founded in AD 675 and rehabilitated in AD 825; it remained important as the fountainhead of the movement. Its importance as a centre of pilgrimage remained intact till the sixteenth century. Its influence spread to Maharashtra and Rajasthan. In northern Madhya Pradesh itself, the monastery at Surwaya grew into a township by the late thirteenth century. Terahi was another distinguished centre ofSiddhanta ascetics; one of its acharyas established his matha in Orissa. The forest of Amardaka (Amrol) developed into a tiratha and its sages extended the movement to Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Ranod developed from a matha in a forest into a tiratha with temples in a fortified matha. Madhumati (Mahua) became a seat of the Siddhanta by the tenth century. Its 'excellent acharyas' were well versed in the Siddhanta and, on the initiative of a Kalachuri queen, were invited to settle in different monasteries in eastern Madhya Pradesh. At Ranod, women were not allowed to stay inside the fortified matha at night; at Madhumati, widows were allowed to become satis.

Apart from their merit and their image, a clue to the empowerment of the Shaiva Siddhanta munis lies in the land and the people. The warriors of the intractable forests used to plunder the caravans of traders who dominated the towns. Entry into the forests was risky till the munis started occupying the tapovanas. They could settle uncontested, and protected people in times of distress. Their temples, tanks, and wells, and their festivals were the source of their influence with the people. They could employ people in cultivation too. They were in a position to act as intermediaries between the forest tribes and the traders of the towns, and thereby promote trade. They began to be actively sought after by rulers too for political and economic benefits. With the forest tribes under control, the rulers under supplication and the traders under protection, they could play an integrative role. For several centuries they had no competition from the Brahmans. This situation lasted till the fourteenth century when political, administrative, and demographic changes began to undermine their position.

Dr Rekha Pande refers to the larger background of Shaivism in the south before the ayanars, whose hymns are preserved in the Tirumurai, expressed their 'love's mad longing' for Shiva alone. The exclusive worship of Shiva developed further among the Aradhya Shaivas whose Brahman leaders were known for their learning and piety. A split in the leadership resulted in the emergence of a radical group known as Virashaivas who tended to be anti-Brahmanical. Ekantada Ramayya appears to have been an important figure before Basava brought Virashaivism into prominence in the late twelfth century by making use of his position as a minister of the Kalachuri Bijjala.

Neither the ideas nor the practices of the Virashaivas can be understood with reference to Basava alone. Their creed was shaped at least partly by the Aradhyas before the split. In Virashaiva philosophy, Shiva is the One Highest Brahman, characterized by existence (sat), intelligence (chit), and joy (anand). The universe exists in the Supreme Brahman and returns to it at the end. Therefore, the Supreme Brahman is called Sthala, the resting place of all beings and all the worlds. The Sthala, agitated by its innate power (shakti), becomes divided into Lingasthala and Angasthala. The former is the object of adoration as Shiva or Rudra and the latter is the adorer as the individual soul. Shakti, by her own power, divides herself into kala of Shiv and bhakti of the individual soul. Through a course of moral and spiritual discipline, the soul progresses towards a union with Shiva that does not involve perfect identity between the supreme and the individual soul.

The Virashaiva move men t was popularized by anum ber of va chana wri ters of Kannada, both male and female, coming from all sections of society; Basava was one of them. He denounced idol worship and caste distinctions in very strong terms. Virashaivism had a great appeal for the lower classes and the trading communities. Its philosophy makes no distinction between men and women in terms of access to spirituality. The Virashaiva saints refused to recognize any distinction between men and women. The wearing of linga removed all those pollutions which debarred women from participation in socio-religious life: menstrual periods, childbirth, and widowhood. Many of the Virashaiva rituals were performed by both men and women. The number of women saints among the Virashaivas appears to have been larger than in any other movement.

There was no contradiction in the life of the grahastha and the pursuit of bhakti. For women, however, there was tension between marriage and devotion to a personal God. Akka Mahadevi had to leave her rich but demanding husband. She became a wandering ascetic. However, she looked upon God as her husband, and talked metaphorically of the mother-in-law, the father-in-law, the sister-in-law, and the brother-in-law. Rejected at the worldly level, patriarchy remains in place at the metaphysical level. Akka Mahadevi started wandering naked to transcend the paradigm of love and sex. Only a few Virashaivas approved of it, and among her critics were some women saints too. Her gesture of defiance made her a rebel in the eyes of her women contemporaries. On the whole, the Virashaiva women succeeded at least partially in overturning patriarchy within the secular, worldly structure.

Virashaivism continued to spread in Karnataka from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Its influence spread to Andhra Pradesh where the works of Mallikarjuna Pandit proved to be a landmark in the history of Vir as haivi sm. Showing greater continuity with the Aradhyas, Virashaivism in Andhra Pradesh was less radical in both religious and social terms. Its influence was limited to the Telingana region. In due course, it merged with the Vedic religion. In Karnataka too, the movement became socially more conservative. Unlike the vachana literature, the later Virashaiva literature developed a sneaking sympathy for caste order and Vedic rites. In 1911, there were nearly three million Virashaivas, called Lingayats, in India. Only a little less than two-thirds of them lived in the Mysore State. The rest lived largely in a few districts of the Bombay Presidency, like Dharwar, Belgaum, and Bijapur. Shiva was still their supreme deity, and all men and women wore the linga. They did not acknowledge the authority of Brahmans. However, they were divided into three Well defined groups which appeared to be the counterparts of the Brahmans the Vaishyas and the Sudras of the Varna order. But even in the twentieth century, the Virashaivas retained some of the egalitarian and anti-Brahmanical features of the early centuries of their history.

 

General Introduction

I
It is understandable that man, shaped by nature, would like to know nature. The human ways of discovering and exploring aspects of nature are evidently diverse, theoretical and practical, scientific and technological, artistic and spiritual. This diversity has, on scrutiny, been found to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive. The complexity of physical nature, the life-world and, particularly, the human mind is so enormous that it is futile to follow a single method for comprehending all the aspects of the world in which we are situated.

One need not feel bewildered by the variety and complexity of worldly phenomena. After all, both from traditional wisdom and our daily experience, we know that our own nature is not alien to the structure of the world. Positively speaking, the elements and forces that are out there in the world are also present in our body-mind complex, enabling us to adjust ourselves to our environment. Natural conditions as well as the social conditions of life have similarities between them. This is not to underrate in any way the differences in various human ways of life all over the world, partly due to the variation in climatic conditions and partly to the distinctness of production-related tradition, history, and culture.

Three broad approaches are discernible in the works on historiography of civilization, comprising science and technology, art and architecture, social sciences and institutions. Firstly, some writers are primarily interested in discovering the general laws which govern all civilizations spread over different continents. They tend to underplay what they call the noisy local events of the external world and peculiarities of different languages, literature, and histories. Their accent is on the unity of nature, science, and mankind. The second group of writers, unlike the generalist or transcendentalist ones, attach primary importance to the distinctiveness of every culture. To these writers human freedom and creativity are extremely important and basic in character. Social institutions and the cultural articulations of human consciousness, they argue, are bound to be expressive of the concerned people's consciousness. By implication they tend to reject concepts like archetypal consciousness, the universal mind, and providential history. There is a third group of writers who offer a composite picture of civilizations, drawing elements both from their local and common characteristics. Every culture has its local roots and peculiarities. At the same time, it is pointed out that due to demographic migration and immigration over the centuries, an element of compositeness emerges almost in every culture. When, due to a natural calamity or political exigencies, people move from one part of the world to another, they carry with them, among other things, their language, cultural inheritance, and ways of living.

In the light of the above facts, it is not at all surprising that comparative anthropologist and philologists are intrigued by the striking similarity between different language families and the rites, rituals, and myths of different groups of people. Speculative philosophers of history, heavily relying on the findings of epigraphy, ethnography, archaeology, and theology, try to show in very general terms that the particulars and universals of culture are 'essentially' or 'secretly' interrelated. The spiritual aspects of culture like dance and music, beliefs pertaining to life and death, on analysis, are found to be mediated by practicalities such as weather forecasting, food production, urbanization, and the invention of scripts. The transition from a oral culture to written one was made possible by the mastery of symbols and rules of measurement. Speech precedes grammar, poetry, or prosody. This shows how the 'matter' and 'forms' of life are so subtly interwoven.

II
The PHISPC publications on the History of Science, Philosophy, and Culture in Indian Civilization, in spite of their unitary appearance, do recognize the differences between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. It is not the work of a single author. Nor is it executed by a group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In conceiving the project we have interacted with, and been influenced by, the writings and views of many Indian and non- Indian thinkers.

The attempted unity of this project lies in its aim and inspiration. We have in India many scholarly works written by Indians on different aspects of our civilization and culture. Right from the pre-Christian era to our own time, India has drawn the attention of various countries of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Some of these writings are objective and informative and many others are based on insufficient information and hearsy and therefore not quite reliable despite their value. Quality and viewpoints keep changing not only because of the adequacy and inadequacy of evidence but also, and perhaps more so, because of the bias and prejudice, religious and political conviction, of writers.

Besides, it is to be remembered that history, like nature, is not an open book to be read alike by all. The past is mainly enclosed and only partially disclosed. History is, therefore, partly objective or 'real' and largely a matter of construction. This is one of the reasons why some historians themselves think that it is a form of literature or art. However, it does not mean that historical construction is 'anarchic' and arbitrary, even though imagination plays an important role in it.

The character of historical construction is basically dependent upon the questions which the historian raises and wants to understand or answer in terms of the ideas and actions of human beings in the past ages. In a way, history, somewhat like the natural sciences, is engaged in answering questions and in exploring relationships of cause and effect between events and developments across time. While in the natural sciences, the scientist poses questions about nature in the form of hypotheses, expecting to elicit authoritative answers to such questions, the historian studies the past, partly for the sake of understanding it for its own sake and partly also for the light which the past throws upon the present, and the possibilities which it opens up for moulding the future. But the difference between the two approaches must not be lost sight of. The scientist is primarily interested in discovering laws and framing theories, in terms of which, different events and processes can be connected and anticipated. His interest in the conditions or circumstances attending the concerned events is secondary. Therefore, scientific laws turn out to be basically abstract and easily expressible in terms of mathematical language. In contrast, the historian's main interest centres round the specific events, human ideas and actions, not general laws. So, the historian, unlike the scientist, is obliged to pay primary attention to the circumstances of the events he wants to study. Consequently, history, like most other humanistic disciplines, is concrete and particularist. This is not to deny the obvious truth that historical events and processes, consisting of human ideas and actions, show some trend or other and weave some pattern or other. If these trends and patterns were not there at all in history, the study of history as a branch of knowledge would not have been profitable or instructive. But one must recognize that historical trends and patterns, unlike scientific laws and theories, are not general or purported to be universal in their scope.

III
The aim of this project is to discover the main aspects ofIndian culture and presen t them in an interrelated way. Since our culture has influenced, and has been influenced by, the neighbouring cultures of West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and South-east Asia, attempts have been made here to trace and study these influences in their mutuality. It is well known that during the last three centuries, European presence in India, both polit-ical and cultural, has been very widespread. In many volumes of the project considerable attention has been paid to Europe and through Europe to other parts of the world. For the purpose of a comprehensive cultural study of India, the existing political boundaries of the South Asia of today are more of hindrance than help. Cultures, like languages, often transcend the boundaries of changing political territories.

If inconstant political geography is not a reliable pointer to the understanding of the layered structure and spread of culture, a somewhat comparable problem is encountered in the area of historical periodization. Periodization or segmenting time is a very tricky affair. When exactly one period ends and another begins is not precisely ascertainable. The periods of history designated as ancient, medieval, and modern are purely conventional and merely heuristic in character. The varying scopes of history, local, national, and continental or universal, somewhat like the periods of history, are unavoidably fuzzy and shifting. Amidst all these difficulties, the volume-wise details have been planned and worked out by the editors in consultation with the project director and the general editor. I believe that the editors of different volumes have also profited from the reactions and suggestions of the contributors of individual chapters in planning the volumes.

Another aspect of Indian history which the volume-editors and contributors of the project have carefully dealt with is the distinction and relation between civilization and culture. The material conditions which substantially shaped Indian civilization have been discussed in detail. From agriculture and industry to metallurgy and technology, from physics and chemical practices to the life sciences and different systems of medicines-all the branches of knowledge and skill which directly affect human life-form the heart of this project. Since the periods covered by the PHISPC are extensive-prehistory, proto-history, early history, medieval history, and modern history of India-we do not claim to have gone into all the relevant material conditions of human life. We had to be selective. Therefore, one should not be surprised if one finds that only some material aspects ofIndian civilization have received our focused attention, while the rest have been dealt with in principle or only alluded to.

One of the main aims of the project has been to spell out the first principles of the philosophy of different schools, both pro-Vedic and anti-Vedic. The basic ideas of Buddhism,Jainism, and Islam have been given their due importance. The special position accorded to philosophy is to be understood partly in terms of its proclaimed unifying character and partly to be explained in terms of the fact that differen t philosophical systems represent alternative world views, cultural perspectives, their conflict, and mutual assimilation.

Most of the volume-editors and at their instance, the concerned contributors, have followed a middle path between the extremes of narrativism and theoreticism. The underlying idea has been this: If in the process of working out a comprehensive project like this, every contributor attempts to narrate all the interesting things that he has in the back of his mind, the enterprise is likely to prove unmanageable. If, on the other hand, particular details are consciously forced into a fixed mould or presupposed theoretical structure, the details lose their particularity and interesting character. Therefore, depending on the nature of the problem of discourse, most of the writers have tried to reconcile in their presentation, the specificity' of narrativism and the generality of theoretical orientation. This is a conscious editorial decision, and followed because, in the absence of a theory, however inarticulate it may be, the factual details tend to fall apart. Spiritual network or theoretical orientation makes historical details not only meaningful but also interesting and enjoyable.

Another editorial decision which deserves spelling out is the necessity or avoid ability of duplication of the same theme in different volumes or even in the same volume. Certainly, this project is not an assortment of several volumes. Nor is any volume intended to be a miscellany. This project has been designed with a definite end in view and has a structure of its own. The character of the structure has admittedly been influenced by the variety of the themes accommodated within it. Again it must be understood that the complexity of structure is rooted in the aimed integrality of the project itself.

IV
Long and in-depth editorial discussion led us to several unanimous conclusions. Firstly, our project was going to be unique, unrivalled, and discursive in its attempt to integrate diffe.rent forms of science, technology philosophy and culture. Its comprehensive scope continuous characters, and accent on culture distinguish it from the works of such Indian authors as P.C. Ray, B.N. Seal, Binoy Kumar Sarkar, and S.N. Sen and also from such Euro-American writers as Lynn Thorndike, George Sarton, andJoseph Needham. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that it is for the first time that an endeavour of so comprehensive a character, in its exploration of the social, philosophical, and cultural characteristics of a distinctive world civilization-that of India-has been attempted in the domain of scholarship.

Secondly, we try to show the linkages between different branches of learning as different modes of experience in an organic manner and without resorting to a kind of reductionism, materialistic or spiritualistic. The internal dialectics of organicism without reductionism allows fuzziness, discontinuity, and discreteness within limits.

Thirdly, positively speaking, different modes of human experience-scientific, artistic, etc have their own individuality, but not necessarily autonomy. Since all these modes are the modification and articulation of human experience, they are bound to have some finely graded commonness. At the same time, it has been recognized that reflection on different areas of experience and investigation brings to light new insights and findings. Growth of knowledge requires humans, in general, and scholars, in particular, to identify the distinctness of different branches of learning.

Fourthly, to follow simultaneously the twin principles of: (a) individuality of human experience as a whole, and (b) individuality of diverse disciplines, is not at all an easy task. Overlap of themes and duplication of the terms of discourse become unavoidable at times. For example, in the context of Dharmasastra; the writer is bound to discuss the concept of value. The same concept figures in economic discourse and also occurs in a discussion on fine arts. The conscious editorial decision has been that, while duplication should be kept to its minimum, for the sake of intended clarity of the themes under discussion, their reiteration must not be avoided at high intellectual cost.

Fifthly, the scholars working on the project are drawn from widely different discip- lines. They have brought to our notice an important fact that has clear relevance to our work. Many of our contemporary disciplines like economics and sociology did not exist, at least not in their present form, two centuries or so ago. For example, before the middle of the nineteenth century, sociology as a distinct branch of knowledge was unknown. The term is said to have been coined first by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838. Obviously, this does not mean that the issues discussed in sociology did not exist. Similarly, Adam Smith's (1723-90) famous work The Wealth of Nations is often referred to as the first authoritative statement of the principles of (what we now call) economics. Interestingly enough, the author was equally interested in ethics and jurisprudence. It is clear from history that the nature and scope of different disciplines undergo change, at times very radically, over time. For example, in India Arthasastra does not mean the science of economics as understood today. Besides the principles of economics, the Arthasastra of ancient India discusses at length those of governance, diplomacy, and military science.

Sixthly, this brings us to the next editorial policy followed in the project. We have tried to remain very conscious of what may be called indeterminacy or inexactness of translation. When a word or expression of one language is translated into another, some loss of meaning or exactitude seems to be unavoidable. This is true not only in the bilingual relations like Sanskrit-English and Sanskrit-Arabic, but also in those of Hindi-Tamil and Hindi-Bengali. In recognition of the importance of language-bound and context-relative character of meaning we have solicited from many contributions, written in vernacular languages by learned scholars. In order to minimize the miseffect of semantic inexactitude we have solicited translational help from bilingual scholars who know both English and the concerned vernacular language-Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Bengali, or Marathi.

Seventhly and finally, perhaps the place of technology as a branch of knowledge in the composite universe of science and art merits some elucidation. Technology has been conceived of in very many ways, for example as autonomous, as 'standing reserve', as liberating or enlarging, and as an alienative or estranging force. The studies undertaken by the project show that, in spite of its much emphasized mechanical and alienative characteristics, technology embodies a very useful mode of knowledge that is peculiar to man. The Greek root words of technology are techne (art) and logos (science). This is the basic justification of recognizing technology as closely related to both epistemology, the discipline of valid knowledge, and axiology, the discipline of freedom and values. It is in this context that we are reminded of the definition of man as homo technikos. In Sanskrit, the word closest to techne is kala which means any practical art, any mechanical or fine art. In the Indian tradition, in Saivatantra, for example, among the arts (kala) are counted dance, drama, music, architecture, metallurgy, and knowledge of dictionary, encyclopedia, and prosody. The closeness of the relation between arts and sciences, technology and other forms of knowledge is evident from these examples and was known to people of the ancient world. The human quest for knowledge involves the use of both head and hand. Without mind, the body is a corpse and the disembodied mind is a bare abstraction. Even for our appreciation of what is beautiful and the creation of what is valuable, we are required to exercise both our intellectual competence and physical capacity. In a manner of speaking, one might rightly affirm that our psychosomatic structure is a functional connector between what we are and what we could be, between the physical and the beyond. To suppose that there is a clear-cut distinction between the physical world and the psychosomatic, one amounts to denial of the possible emergence of higher logico-mathernatical, musical, and other capacities. The very availability of aesthetic experience and creation proves that the supposed distinction is somehow overcome by what may be called the bodily self or embodied mind.

 

Contents

 

  Preface IX
  Editors XI
  Contributors XIII
  General Introduction XVII
  Introduction 1
  PART 1  
1 Shaiva Siddhanta 47
2 Virshaivism 66
3 Tantrism and Shaktism 81
4 Shaktism in Himachal 95
5 Srivaishnavism 110
6 Rama Bhakti 121
  PART 2  
7 The Varkari Movement 141
8 Gaudiya Vaishnavism 159
9 Vaisnavism in Assam 189
10 The Pushtimarg ofVallabhacharya 201
11 Mirabai: The Female Voice and Oral Compositions 228
  PART 3  
12 The Sunni Muslims 263
13 The Shia Muslims 280
14 Ism'ailis, Mahdawis, and Raushanyas 296
15 Sufism in Medieval India 318
16 Indigenization of Sufism: The Case of the Punjab 353
  PART 4  
17 Kabir and the Kabir-Panthis 383
18 Sant Ravidas 410
19 Dadu and the Dadu-Panthis 424
20 The Sikh Movement 450
  PART 5  
21 The Temple in South India 477
22 Devadasis 493
23 Khanqah, Dargah, and Pir 505
24 The Gurdwara 533
  " Bibliography 549
  Index 565

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Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India

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About the Book

The volumes of the Project of The History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated way. In spite of their unitary look, they recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is executed by scholars with different ideological persuasions and methodological approaches and is marked by 'methodological pluralism'.

In spite of its primary historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by many scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time.that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India.

This volume deals with a variety of themes related to religion in medieval India, with a wide range of factual information, significant detail, and new ideas. Thematically, it is organized into five parts. The first part relates to continuity and change within the Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava systems. The next part deals with Krishna bhakti and its regional manifestations in Maharashtra, Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The third part focuses on Islam in its various forms while the fourth relates to the monotheistic movements, which were neither 'Hindu' nor 'Islamic' in their origins. The concluding section centres on religious institutions, especially the sacred space.

With contributions from well-known subject experts, the volume covers a large geographical canvas. It also studies major religious movements in Sikhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Islam, and other related dimensions of different faiths and religious traditions.

This volume, and others in the series, will be of special interest to students and scholars of history, philosophy, cultural studies, as well as general readers interested in the civilization and culture of India.

 

About the Author

D.P. Chattopadhyaya,MA, LLB, PhD (Calcutta and London School of Economics), DLitt (Honoris Causa), researched, studied law, philosophy, and history, and taught at various universities in India, Asia, Europe, and USA from 1954 to 1994. Founder-Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-90) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984-91), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multidisciplinary 96- volume Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization (PHISPC) and Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations (CSC). Among his thirty-five publications, authored eighteen and edited seventeen, are Individuals and Societies (1967), Individuals and Worlds (1976), Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988), Anthropology and Historiography of Science (1990), Induction, Probability and Skepticism (1991), Sociology, Ideology and Utopia (1997), Societies, Cultures and Ideologies (2000), Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilizational Dialogue (2002), and Philosophy of Science, Phenomenology and Other Essays (2003). Besides, he has also held high public offices like Union Cabinet Ministership and State Governorship.

J.S. Grewal was formerly the Chairman and Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. He was also Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He has published extensively on historiography, medieval and modem Indian history, and Sikh movement and the Punjab. His major publications include Guru Nanak in History (1969), Muslim Rule in India: The Assessments of British Historians (1970), In the By-Lanes of History: Some Persian Documents from a Punjab Town (1975), The Sikhs of the Punjab (1990), Contesting Interpretations of the Sikh Tradition (1998), and Social and Cultural History of the Punjab: Pre-historic, Ancient and Early Medieval (2004).

 

Preface

Like a score of other Editorial Fellows of the Project of History ofIndian Science, Philosophy, and Culture, I had the freedom to plan this volume according to my lights. Informal discussion with other scholars, especially Professors Indu Banga, Kumkum Sangari, and SuviraJaiswal, was immensely helpful in identifying the themes for the volume. I am grateful to them. An eminent historian who was not supposed to contribute any paper but who contributed much towards the shaping of this volume was Professor Ravinder Kumar who is no longer with us. I find some consolation in acknowledging my debt to him. I am thankful to Professors Irfan Habib, Shireen Moosvi, Satish Chandra, and Aniruddha Ray for their valuable suggestions.

A preliminary statement on a possible treatment of the subject carried the suggestion that the new religious movements of medieval India can be appreciated in relation to continuities from earlier times. A common set of aspects could be kept in mind for studying similarities and differences between the various forms of religious phenomena, like the ideology of a system as embodied in its literature, institutions based on ideas pertaining to a system, important centres and organizational networks of a system, and the social implications of its ideas and institutions. Furthermore, the social order created by a religious system could be studied in terms ofits composition and the social background of its members and their attitudes towards women and the outcaste. The attitudes of socio-religious entities towards one another could clarify issues of identity. Equally relevant could be the attitude of a socio-religious group towards the state.

I am happy to acknowledge the cooperation extended by Mr Sreekumaran S. for everything connected with the office of the director of the project. Professor Bhuvan Chandel was extremely helpful in organizing the seminars for this volume as in all other matters needing her attention as the project coordinator. Above all, I am grateful to Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya who remained readily accessible for sound advice whenever needed. It was a pleasure to work with him as the director of the project.

Ms Kuldeep Kaur Grewal provided valuable assistance formally as a research assistant and informally in her personal capacity as a scholar. Among other things, she compiled the bibliography for this volume. I thank her warmly for her help. Professor Indu Banga was associated with the volume from the very beginning. There was even the idea that she may work as joint editor, but it was not formalized. Nevertheless, she remained actively associated with all the work involved in the pursuit and completion of this volume. It is dedicated to Professor Indu Banga in deep appreciation of her long and active association with this work.

 

Introduction

The history of religion in medieval India was marked by the entry of various forms of Islam into the subcontinent, resulting in its partial Islamization and the indigenization of Islam in India. Much of the religious phenomena in India remained essentially unaffected by the presence of Islam. The old systems of religious belief and practice- Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava-continued to flourish in their traditional or modified forms. New indigenous movements arose to take into account not only the presence of Islam but also the non-Muslim systems of religious belief and practice, both old and new. All systems had their peculiar institutions related to their ideologies and purposes. A wide and varied spectrum of religious phenomena, thus, marked the medieval period of Indian history.

This volume contains twenty-four papers of varying length on a variety of themes related to religion in medieval India, with a wide range of factual information, significant detail, and new ideas. Thematically, they fall into five parts. The first part relates to continuity and change within the Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava systems. The second part relates exclusively to Krishna bhaktiin its various forms in Maharashtra, Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The third part relates to Islam in medieval India in its various forms. The fourth part relates to the monotheistic movements, which in their origins were neither 'Hindu' nor 'Islamic'. The fifth part relates to religious institutions, especially the sacred space.

The purpose of this introduction is to bring the main argument of each paper into bold relief, in its own language as far as possible, and curbing the temptation to go beyond what the author says. This overview is expected, metaphorically, to bind the volume into a framework helpful for the reader.

I
The first part of the volume consists of six papers relating to Shaiva Siddhan ta, Virashaivism, Tantrism and Shaktism, Shaktism in Himachal, Srivaishnavism, and Rama Bhakti. Almost all these religious phenomena reveal both continuity and change.

Professor R.N. Misra points out that Shaivism was never a monolith. Siddhanta was one of its numerous sects and schools. In central India, the 'genealogies' of its acharyas or munis, called 'Siddhantika', extend from the seventh to the fourteenth centuries, and their impact is clearly indicated by the allegiance invoked in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa to some of the central Indian monasteries.

Siddhanta had a distinct system of philosophy, with its three 'categories' of jiva (soul), Ishvara (Shiva), and pasha (bondage), and its four 'foundations' of knowledge (jnana), ritual practices (kirya), meditation (yoga), and discipline (charya). In its developed form, Siddhanta enunciates a perpetual difference between God and soul, signifying their mystic union as 'unity in duality'.

The movement began with the locations of ascetics in forests, signifying their state of renunciation. These locations developed later into habitats, monasteries, townships, and centres of pilgrimage, endowed with fame, wealth, and power. The princes invoked the Siddhantika's support by offering gifts and receiving initiation. Patronage appears to have been thrust on the ascetics, but it carried the implication of empowerment nonetheless. A rapid proliferation of the Siddhanta monasteries (mathas) in northern Madhya Pradesh was, in fact, related to this empowerment. The entire region appears to have come under the sway of the Siddhanta movement by the ninth century.

The monastery at Kadwaha was founded in AD 675 and rehabilitated in AD 825; it remained important as the fountainhead of the movement. Its importance as a centre of pilgrimage remained intact till the sixteenth century. Its influence spread to Maharashtra and Rajasthan. In northern Madhya Pradesh itself, the monastery at Surwaya grew into a township by the late thirteenth century. Terahi was another distinguished centre ofSiddhanta ascetics; one of its acharyas established his matha in Orissa. The forest of Amardaka (Amrol) developed into a tiratha and its sages extended the movement to Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Ranod developed from a matha in a forest into a tiratha with temples in a fortified matha. Madhumati (Mahua) became a seat of the Siddhanta by the tenth century. Its 'excellent acharyas' were well versed in the Siddhanta and, on the initiative of a Kalachuri queen, were invited to settle in different monasteries in eastern Madhya Pradesh. At Ranod, women were not allowed to stay inside the fortified matha at night; at Madhumati, widows were allowed to become satis.

Apart from their merit and their image, a clue to the empowerment of the Shaiva Siddhanta munis lies in the land and the people. The warriors of the intractable forests used to plunder the caravans of traders who dominated the towns. Entry into the forests was risky till the munis started occupying the tapovanas. They could settle uncontested, and protected people in times of distress. Their temples, tanks, and wells, and their festivals were the source of their influence with the people. They could employ people in cultivation too. They were in a position to act as intermediaries between the forest tribes and the traders of the towns, and thereby promote trade. They began to be actively sought after by rulers too for political and economic benefits. With the forest tribes under control, the rulers under supplication and the traders under protection, they could play an integrative role. For several centuries they had no competition from the Brahmans. This situation lasted till the fourteenth century when political, administrative, and demographic changes began to undermine their position.

Dr Rekha Pande refers to the larger background of Shaivism in the south before the ayanars, whose hymns are preserved in the Tirumurai, expressed their 'love's mad longing' for Shiva alone. The exclusive worship of Shiva developed further among the Aradhya Shaivas whose Brahman leaders were known for their learning and piety. A split in the leadership resulted in the emergence of a radical group known as Virashaivas who tended to be anti-Brahmanical. Ekantada Ramayya appears to have been an important figure before Basava brought Virashaivism into prominence in the late twelfth century by making use of his position as a minister of the Kalachuri Bijjala.

Neither the ideas nor the practices of the Virashaivas can be understood with reference to Basava alone. Their creed was shaped at least partly by the Aradhyas before the split. In Virashaiva philosophy, Shiva is the One Highest Brahman, characterized by existence (sat), intelligence (chit), and joy (anand). The universe exists in the Supreme Brahman and returns to it at the end. Therefore, the Supreme Brahman is called Sthala, the resting place of all beings and all the worlds. The Sthala, agitated by its innate power (shakti), becomes divided into Lingasthala and Angasthala. The former is the object of adoration as Shiva or Rudra and the latter is the adorer as the individual soul. Shakti, by her own power, divides herself into kala of Shiv and bhakti of the individual soul. Through a course of moral and spiritual discipline, the soul progresses towards a union with Shiva that does not involve perfect identity between the supreme and the individual soul.

The Virashaiva move men t was popularized by anum ber of va chana wri ters of Kannada, both male and female, coming from all sections of society; Basava was one of them. He denounced idol worship and caste distinctions in very strong terms. Virashaivism had a great appeal for the lower classes and the trading communities. Its philosophy makes no distinction between men and women in terms of access to spirituality. The Virashaiva saints refused to recognize any distinction between men and women. The wearing of linga removed all those pollutions which debarred women from participation in socio-religious life: menstrual periods, childbirth, and widowhood. Many of the Virashaiva rituals were performed by both men and women. The number of women saints among the Virashaivas appears to have been larger than in any other movement.

There was no contradiction in the life of the grahastha and the pursuit of bhakti. For women, however, there was tension between marriage and devotion to a personal God. Akka Mahadevi had to leave her rich but demanding husband. She became a wandering ascetic. However, she looked upon God as her husband, and talked metaphorically of the mother-in-law, the father-in-law, the sister-in-law, and the brother-in-law. Rejected at the worldly level, patriarchy remains in place at the metaphysical level. Akka Mahadevi started wandering naked to transcend the paradigm of love and sex. Only a few Virashaivas approved of it, and among her critics were some women saints too. Her gesture of defiance made her a rebel in the eyes of her women contemporaries. On the whole, the Virashaiva women succeeded at least partially in overturning patriarchy within the secular, worldly structure.

Virashaivism continued to spread in Karnataka from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Its influence spread to Andhra Pradesh where the works of Mallikarjuna Pandit proved to be a landmark in the history of Vir as haivi sm. Showing greater continuity with the Aradhyas, Virashaivism in Andhra Pradesh was less radical in both religious and social terms. Its influence was limited to the Telingana region. In due course, it merged with the Vedic religion. In Karnataka too, the movement became socially more conservative. Unlike the vachana literature, the later Virashaiva literature developed a sneaking sympathy for caste order and Vedic rites. In 1911, there were nearly three million Virashaivas, called Lingayats, in India. Only a little less than two-thirds of them lived in the Mysore State. The rest lived largely in a few districts of the Bombay Presidency, like Dharwar, Belgaum, and Bijapur. Shiva was still their supreme deity, and all men and women wore the linga. They did not acknowledge the authority of Brahmans. However, they were divided into three Well defined groups which appeared to be the counterparts of the Brahmans the Vaishyas and the Sudras of the Varna order. But even in the twentieth century, the Virashaivas retained some of the egalitarian and anti-Brahmanical features of the early centuries of their history.

 

General Introduction

I
It is understandable that man, shaped by nature, would like to know nature. The human ways of discovering and exploring aspects of nature are evidently diverse, theoretical and practical, scientific and technological, artistic and spiritual. This diversity has, on scrutiny, been found to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive. The complexity of physical nature, the life-world and, particularly, the human mind is so enormous that it is futile to follow a single method for comprehending all the aspects of the world in which we are situated.

One need not feel bewildered by the variety and complexity of worldly phenomena. After all, both from traditional wisdom and our daily experience, we know that our own nature is not alien to the structure of the world. Positively speaking, the elements and forces that are out there in the world are also present in our body-mind complex, enabling us to adjust ourselves to our environment. Natural conditions as well as the social conditions of life have similarities between them. This is not to underrate in any way the differences in various human ways of life all over the world, partly due to the variation in climatic conditions and partly to the distinctness of production-related tradition, history, and culture.

Three broad approaches are discernible in the works on historiography of civilization, comprising science and technology, art and architecture, social sciences and institutions. Firstly, some writers are primarily interested in discovering the general laws which govern all civilizations spread over different continents. They tend to underplay what they call the noisy local events of the external world and peculiarities of different languages, literature, and histories. Their accent is on the unity of nature, science, and mankind. The second group of writers, unlike the generalist or transcendentalist ones, attach primary importance to the distinctiveness of every culture. To these writers human freedom and creativity are extremely important and basic in character. Social institutions and the cultural articulations of human consciousness, they argue, are bound to be expressive of the concerned people's consciousness. By implication they tend to reject concepts like archetypal consciousness, the universal mind, and providential history. There is a third group of writers who offer a composite picture of civilizations, drawing elements both from their local and common characteristics. Every culture has its local roots and peculiarities. At the same time, it is pointed out that due to demographic migration and immigration over the centuries, an element of compositeness emerges almost in every culture. When, due to a natural calamity or political exigencies, people move from one part of the world to another, they carry with them, among other things, their language, cultural inheritance, and ways of living.

In the light of the above facts, it is not at all surprising that comparative anthropologist and philologists are intrigued by the striking similarity between different language families and the rites, rituals, and myths of different groups of people. Speculative philosophers of history, heavily relying on the findings of epigraphy, ethnography, archaeology, and theology, try to show in very general terms that the particulars and universals of culture are 'essentially' or 'secretly' interrelated. The spiritual aspects of culture like dance and music, beliefs pertaining to life and death, on analysis, are found to be mediated by practicalities such as weather forecasting, food production, urbanization, and the invention of scripts. The transition from a oral culture to written one was made possible by the mastery of symbols and rules of measurement. Speech precedes grammar, poetry, or prosody. This shows how the 'matter' and 'forms' of life are so subtly interwoven.

II
The PHISPC publications on the History of Science, Philosophy, and Culture in Indian Civilization, in spite of their unitary appearance, do recognize the differences between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. It is not the work of a single author. Nor is it executed by a group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In conceiving the project we have interacted with, and been influenced by, the writings and views of many Indian and non- Indian thinkers.

The attempted unity of this project lies in its aim and inspiration. We have in India many scholarly works written by Indians on different aspects of our civilization and culture. Right from the pre-Christian era to our own time, India has drawn the attention of various countries of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Some of these writings are objective and informative and many others are based on insufficient information and hearsy and therefore not quite reliable despite their value. Quality and viewpoints keep changing not only because of the adequacy and inadequacy of evidence but also, and perhaps more so, because of the bias and prejudice, religious and political conviction, of writers.

Besides, it is to be remembered that history, like nature, is not an open book to be read alike by all. The past is mainly enclosed and only partially disclosed. History is, therefore, partly objective or 'real' and largely a matter of construction. This is one of the reasons why some historians themselves think that it is a form of literature or art. However, it does not mean that historical construction is 'anarchic' and arbitrary, even though imagination plays an important role in it.

The character of historical construction is basically dependent upon the questions which the historian raises and wants to understand or answer in terms of the ideas and actions of human beings in the past ages. In a way, history, somewhat like the natural sciences, is engaged in answering questions and in exploring relationships of cause and effect between events and developments across time. While in the natural sciences, the scientist poses questions about nature in the form of hypotheses, expecting to elicit authoritative answers to such questions, the historian studies the past, partly for the sake of understanding it for its own sake and partly also for the light which the past throws upon the present, and the possibilities which it opens up for moulding the future. But the difference between the two approaches must not be lost sight of. The scientist is primarily interested in discovering laws and framing theories, in terms of which, different events and processes can be connected and anticipated. His interest in the conditions or circumstances attending the concerned events is secondary. Therefore, scientific laws turn out to be basically abstract and easily expressible in terms of mathematical language. In contrast, the historian's main interest centres round the specific events, human ideas and actions, not general laws. So, the historian, unlike the scientist, is obliged to pay primary attention to the circumstances of the events he wants to study. Consequently, history, like most other humanistic disciplines, is concrete and particularist. This is not to deny the obvious truth that historical events and processes, consisting of human ideas and actions, show some trend or other and weave some pattern or other. If these trends and patterns were not there at all in history, the study of history as a branch of knowledge would not have been profitable or instructive. But one must recognize that historical trends and patterns, unlike scientific laws and theories, are not general or purported to be universal in their scope.

III
The aim of this project is to discover the main aspects ofIndian culture and presen t them in an interrelated way. Since our culture has influenced, and has been influenced by, the neighbouring cultures of West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and South-east Asia, attempts have been made here to trace and study these influences in their mutuality. It is well known that during the last three centuries, European presence in India, both polit-ical and cultural, has been very widespread. In many volumes of the project considerable attention has been paid to Europe and through Europe to other parts of the world. For the purpose of a comprehensive cultural study of India, the existing political boundaries of the South Asia of today are more of hindrance than help. Cultures, like languages, often transcend the boundaries of changing political territories.

If inconstant political geography is not a reliable pointer to the understanding of the layered structure and spread of culture, a somewhat comparable problem is encountered in the area of historical periodization. Periodization or segmenting time is a very tricky affair. When exactly one period ends and another begins is not precisely ascertainable. The periods of history designated as ancient, medieval, and modern are purely conventional and merely heuristic in character. The varying scopes of history, local, national, and continental or universal, somewhat like the periods of history, are unavoidably fuzzy and shifting. Amidst all these difficulties, the volume-wise details have been planned and worked out by the editors in consultation with the project director and the general editor. I believe that the editors of different volumes have also profited from the reactions and suggestions of the contributors of individual chapters in planning the volumes.

Another aspect of Indian history which the volume-editors and contributors of the project have carefully dealt with is the distinction and relation between civilization and culture. The material conditions which substantially shaped Indian civilization have been discussed in detail. From agriculture and industry to metallurgy and technology, from physics and chemical practices to the life sciences and different systems of medicines-all the branches of knowledge and skill which directly affect human life-form the heart of this project. Since the periods covered by the PHISPC are extensive-prehistory, proto-history, early history, medieval history, and modern history of India-we do not claim to have gone into all the relevant material conditions of human life. We had to be selective. Therefore, one should not be surprised if one finds that only some material aspects ofIndian civilization have received our focused attention, while the rest have been dealt with in principle or only alluded to.

One of the main aims of the project has been to spell out the first principles of the philosophy of different schools, both pro-Vedic and anti-Vedic. The basic ideas of Buddhism,Jainism, and Islam have been given their due importance. The special position accorded to philosophy is to be understood partly in terms of its proclaimed unifying character and partly to be explained in terms of the fact that differen t philosophical systems represent alternative world views, cultural perspectives, their conflict, and mutual assimilation.

Most of the volume-editors and at their instance, the concerned contributors, have followed a middle path between the extremes of narrativism and theoreticism. The underlying idea has been this: If in the process of working out a comprehensive project like this, every contributor attempts to narrate all the interesting things that he has in the back of his mind, the enterprise is likely to prove unmanageable. If, on the other hand, particular details are consciously forced into a fixed mould or presupposed theoretical structure, the details lose their particularity and interesting character. Therefore, depending on the nature of the problem of discourse, most of the writers have tried to reconcile in their presentation, the specificity' of narrativism and the generality of theoretical orientation. This is a conscious editorial decision, and followed because, in the absence of a theory, however inarticulate it may be, the factual details tend to fall apart. Spiritual network or theoretical orientation makes historical details not only meaningful but also interesting and enjoyable.

Another editorial decision which deserves spelling out is the necessity or avoid ability of duplication of the same theme in different volumes or even in the same volume. Certainly, this project is not an assortment of several volumes. Nor is any volume intended to be a miscellany. This project has been designed with a definite end in view and has a structure of its own. The character of the structure has admittedly been influenced by the variety of the themes accommodated within it. Again it must be understood that the complexity of structure is rooted in the aimed integrality of the project itself.

IV
Long and in-depth editorial discussion led us to several unanimous conclusions. Firstly, our project was going to be unique, unrivalled, and discursive in its attempt to integrate diffe.rent forms of science, technology philosophy and culture. Its comprehensive scope continuous characters, and accent on culture distinguish it from the works of such Indian authors as P.C. Ray, B.N. Seal, Binoy Kumar Sarkar, and S.N. Sen and also from such Euro-American writers as Lynn Thorndike, George Sarton, andJoseph Needham. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that it is for the first time that an endeavour of so comprehensive a character, in its exploration of the social, philosophical, and cultural characteristics of a distinctive world civilization-that of India-has been attempted in the domain of scholarship.

Secondly, we try to show the linkages between different branches of learning as different modes of experience in an organic manner and without resorting to a kind of reductionism, materialistic or spiritualistic. The internal dialectics of organicism without reductionism allows fuzziness, discontinuity, and discreteness within limits.

Thirdly, positively speaking, different modes of human experience-scientific, artistic, etc have their own individuality, but not necessarily autonomy. Since all these modes are the modification and articulation of human experience, they are bound to have some finely graded commonness. At the same time, it has been recognized that reflection on different areas of experience and investigation brings to light new insights and findings. Growth of knowledge requires humans, in general, and scholars, in particular, to identify the distinctness of different branches of learning.

Fourthly, to follow simultaneously the twin principles of: (a) individuality of human experience as a whole, and (b) individuality of diverse disciplines, is not at all an easy task. Overlap of themes and duplication of the terms of discourse become unavoidable at times. For example, in the context of Dharmasastra; the writer is bound to discuss the concept of value. The same concept figures in economic discourse and also occurs in a discussion on fine arts. The conscious editorial decision has been that, while duplication should be kept to its minimum, for the sake of intended clarity of the themes under discussion, their reiteration must not be avoided at high intellectual cost.

Fifthly, the scholars working on the project are drawn from widely different discip- lines. They have brought to our notice an important fact that has clear relevance to our work. Many of our contemporary disciplines like economics and sociology did not exist, at least not in their present form, two centuries or so ago. For example, before the middle of the nineteenth century, sociology as a distinct branch of knowledge was unknown. The term is said to have been coined first by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838. Obviously, this does not mean that the issues discussed in sociology did not exist. Similarly, Adam Smith's (1723-90) famous work The Wealth of Nations is often referred to as the first authoritative statement of the principles of (what we now call) economics. Interestingly enough, the author was equally interested in ethics and jurisprudence. It is clear from history that the nature and scope of different disciplines undergo change, at times very radically, over time. For example, in India Arthasastra does not mean the science of economics as understood today. Besides the principles of economics, the Arthasastra of ancient India discusses at length those of governance, diplomacy, and military science.

Sixthly, this brings us to the next editorial policy followed in the project. We have tried to remain very conscious of what may be called indeterminacy or inexactness of translation. When a word or expression of one language is translated into another, some loss of meaning or exactitude seems to be unavoidable. This is true not only in the bilingual relations like Sanskrit-English and Sanskrit-Arabic, but also in those of Hindi-Tamil and Hindi-Bengali. In recognition of the importance of language-bound and context-relative character of meaning we have solicited from many contributions, written in vernacular languages by learned scholars. In order to minimize the miseffect of semantic inexactitude we have solicited translational help from bilingual scholars who know both English and the concerned vernacular language-Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Bengali, or Marathi.

Seventhly and finally, perhaps the place of technology as a branch of knowledge in the composite universe of science and art merits some elucidation. Technology has been conceived of in very many ways, for example as autonomous, as 'standing reserve', as liberating or enlarging, and as an alienative or estranging force. The studies undertaken by the project show that, in spite of its much emphasized mechanical and alienative characteristics, technology embodies a very useful mode of knowledge that is peculiar to man. The Greek root words of technology are techne (art) and logos (science). This is the basic justification of recognizing technology as closely related to both epistemology, the discipline of valid knowledge, and axiology, the discipline of freedom and values. It is in this context that we are reminded of the definition of man as homo technikos. In Sanskrit, the word closest to techne is kala which means any practical art, any mechanical or fine art. In the Indian tradition, in Saivatantra, for example, among the arts (kala) are counted dance, drama, music, architecture, metallurgy, and knowledge of dictionary, encyclopedia, and prosody. The closeness of the relation between arts and sciences, technology and other forms of knowledge is evident from these examples and was known to people of the ancient world. The human quest for knowledge involves the use of both head and hand. Without mind, the body is a corpse and the disembodied mind is a bare abstraction. Even for our appreciation of what is beautiful and the creation of what is valuable, we are required to exercise both our intellectual competence and physical capacity. In a manner of speaking, one might rightly affirm that our psychosomatic structure is a functional connector between what we are and what we could be, between the physical and the beyond. To suppose that there is a clear-cut distinction between the physical world and the psychosomatic, one amounts to denial of the possible emergence of higher logico-mathernatical, musical, and other capacities. The very availability of aesthetic experience and creation proves that the supposed distinction is somehow overcome by what may be called the bodily self or embodied mind.

 

Contents

 

  Preface IX
  Editors XI
  Contributors XIII
  General Introduction XVII
  Introduction 1
  PART 1  
1 Shaiva Siddhanta 47
2 Virshaivism 66
3 Tantrism and Shaktism 81
4 Shaktism in Himachal 95
5 Srivaishnavism 110
6 Rama Bhakti 121
  PART 2  
7 The Varkari Movement 141
8 Gaudiya Vaishnavism 159
9 Vaisnavism in Assam 189
10 The Pushtimarg ofVallabhacharya 201
11 Mirabai: The Female Voice and Oral Compositions 228
  PART 3  
12 The Sunni Muslims 263
13 The Shia Muslims 280
14 Ism'ailis, Mahdawis, and Raushanyas 296
15 Sufism in Medieval India 318
16 Indigenization of Sufism: The Case of the Punjab 353
  PART 4  
17 Kabir and the Kabir-Panthis 383
18 Sant Ravidas 410
19 Dadu and the Dadu-Panthis 424
20 The Sikh Movement 450
  PART 5  
21 The Temple in South India 477
22 Devadasis 493
23 Khanqah, Dargah, and Pir 505
24 The Gurdwara 533
  " Bibliography 549
  Index 565

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