Early Śaiva Mythology: The formative period of an integrated religious vision
Early Śaiva Mythology: A study of the formative period of an integrated religious vision
The study of Śaiva mythology has made significant progress during the last two decades with the ‘discovery’ of the original Skandapurāṇa. This anonymous 6th/7th-century text stands as a model of an early Śaiva Purāṇa, presenting an integrated view of the cosmos and its affairs in which the god Śiva is regarded as supreme.
This project aims at bringing to light the formative period of this mythology by investigating developments culminating in the production of the first Śaiva Purāṇas. Śaiva mythology of this period will be studied in Sanskrit texts of a number of different genres: epic, Purāṇic, poetic (Kāvya), and Tantric. Apart from these textual sources, epigraphic, art-historical, archaeological and numismatic materials will also be taken into account.
Mythology, for all that it may be argued to have universal and timeless characteristics, is rooted in sociohistorical contexts. The project’s approach, being predominantly philological (text-based) but making use of evidence of other kinds as well, aims to reveal the significant changes that took place in the development from epic towards Purāṇic Śaivism. The project will thus provide the basis for a more historically informed understanding of the development of Śaiva mythology, and by extension of Hindu mythology as a whole.
The project commenced in June 2009 and is scheduled to proceed over three years. The following monographs are planned:
- A monograph on Early Śaiva Mythology.
- An accompanying anthology of annotated translations.
- A volume of proceedings from an international symposium to be convened on the theme of the development of early Śaiva mythology.
In addition, a number of textual sources related to the project are to be made available online in digital form.
The directors and their respective areas of research in this project are:
- Dr. Peter Bisschop (development of epic and post-epic mythology in textual and other sources);
- Dr. Harunaga Isaacson (Śaiva mythology in Kāvya and inscriptions; translations).