Volume II, No. 1, Spring 2003
Patronage and Authority:
Buddhist Monasteries in Early Medieval India
by Amit Jha
In the early period, before 500 CE,
'renunciation of the worldly materials' was the leitmotif of Buddhism.
At this stage, Buddhist preachings were primarily concerned with
addressing social problems, as socio-political developments were in an
incipient stage. But later on, during the period under review, i.e.,
500 to 1200 CE, we find that Buddhism had undergone a dramatic change.
Out of the many changes, two developments are worth mentioning. During
the early medieval period, Buddhism incorporated Tantra, which
was of autochthonous origin. This development led to the rise of a new
Buddhist sect called Vajrayana which, like its Hindu counterpart,
was based on the concept of mystical power derived from ritual exercise
in the form of siddhi, yogi, among others. Secondly, early
medieval eastern India witnessed the efflorescence of Buddhist mahaviharas
which led to firm institutionalisation of Buddhism as a religion. By
then, these mahaviharas had become the centre of all sort of
activities associated with 'worldly things'. The line of demarcation
between Hinduism and Buddhism, as two distinct religions, was further
weakened. Buddhist viharas, like South Indian temples, provided
the necessary ideological support to the monarch/state in contemporary
society. Some sort of mutually beneficial collaborative relationship
existed between the head-monk (Upadhyaya) and the king, quite
like the Brahmana-king relationship in the context of Hindu temples.
They appear to be similar in content, but different in form. Firstly,
the eastern Indian viharas enjoyed proper royal patronage for a
brief period, as compared to the Hindu temples, which were recipients of
such patronage for long periods in different parts of India. Secondly,
the degree of the king's involvement in viharas seems to be
miniscule as compared to their participation in the temple's affairs.
This idea can be easily discerned from the differences in the dimensions
of the two religious institutions in eastern India and south India,
respectively. Even the largest Buddhist vihara of Pahadpur
appears to be of moderate size vis-à-vis the establishment of an
ordinary south Indian temple. However, these differences do not lessen
the ideological role played by the early medieval viharas of the
eastern India. All the major mahaviharas (viz. Nalanda, Vikramashila,
Odantipura, Somapura, Ratnagiri, among others) served as catalysts for
the growth of thriving religious and economic centres. Pala rule in
Bengal and, to a lesser extent, the Bhaumakara period in Orissa are
especially good examples of fruitful interaction of religious
effervescence and royal patronage.
One may ask why did the eastern Indian
rulers include among their major projects the sponsorship of mahaviharas
in their kingdom? To find the answer, first we should analyse the
epigraphic sources in the form of land grant charters issued by various
kings' in favour of the viharas. These charters constitute the basic
evidence for the kings' association with the viharas and the
former's material contribution to the latter. In a few royal charters it
has been explicitly mentioned that land grants to the Buddhist viharas
were made merely for the increase of the religious merit of the donors.
Ramapala copper plate of Sricandra mentions land grants to Santivarika
Sri Pitavasa Gupta Sarman, the performer of one crore of
sacrifices (ceremonies) by dedicating to God Buddha Bhattaraka, in order
to increase the merit and fame of himself and his parents. Several
endowments were made for the provision of bali, caru, and sattra
to a deity, whereas in other cases the donations were meant for a single
purpose such as puja or naivedya. The Nalanda stone
inscription of the time of Yasovarman
(dated to the first half of the eighth century) mentions that a
minister's son Malada (in Yasovarman's kingdom) donated one aksyayanivi
(probably a money endowment) for the perpetual offering of various items
to the monks. The maintenance of the sattra was one of the
objects of the grant of the village Urdhvasringa as recorded in the
copper plate of Lokavigraha of Orissa. The Ambari stone inscription
of Samudrapala (dated 1154 CE) mentions about land donated by king
Samudrapala to a vihara for the establishment of sattara
institution in Yogahali, where rituals were performed. Another Bodh Gaya
stone inscription of the Rastrakuta king, Tunga Dharmavaloka (dated
tenth-eleventh century), found attached to the gate of the monastery at
Bodh Gaya, mentions the dedication of a repository for aromatics and
incense, or a well-scented (gandha-kuta) sceptre for the service
of the Buddha by the king. In certain cases, donations were made for the
purpose of writing texts. For example, one of the objects of the
endowments mentioned in the Nalanda plate of Devapala was the writing of
the Buddhist texts. This copper plate of Devapala further mentions
that the endowment recorded in the inscription was also for the
maintenance of viharas built by the ruler of Suvarnadvipa. In the
Nalanda inscription of Vipulasrimitra (dated 12th century CE), land
grants were made for the execution of the tank and repair of a Pitamaha viharas.
The Bodh Gaya inscription of Jayacandra (Gahadavala king-1170 CE)
opens with an invocation to the Buddha, the Bodhisattva, and the king's
own religious preceptor, a monk named Srimitra, and records the
construction of a Guha (cave-dwelling) at a place called Jayapur. In
Jagjivanpur copper plate of Mahendrapala (Malwa, West Bengal, dated
840-846 CE), Vajradeva, a member of the royal family, is said to have
built a vihara and granted tax-free land of Nandadirghika, for
its maintenance. The Bodh Gaya inscription of Dharmapala mentions
the excavation of a deep lake at a cost of three thousand drammas for
the benefit of the Mahabodhi vihara. Another Bodh Gaya stone
inscription of Mahanaman-II (dated 588 CE) mentions the construction of
a Buddhist mansion at Bodhimanda. The Janibigha stone inscription
(dated 1202 CE) mentions the grant of a village named Kotthala, in the
district Saptaghatta, for the maintenance of the Diamond Throne and the
monastery attached there, to the Ceylonese monk, Mangalasvamin, by the
king Jayasena, lord of Pithi.
There are also few land grants made by
the king to the viharas, which comprised uncultivated tracts of
lands, marshy land, and lands with no natural boundaries or forestland.
The Gunaighar inscription (dated 506 CE) describes five plots of land
donated to the Buddhist viharas as water logged and
uncultivated. According to the Tippera copper plate of Lokanatha
(dated to second half of the seventh century), the king granted a forest
region (atavi-bhukhanda) without any natural boundaries to a vihara.
In the Gauhati inscription of Indrapala (dated tenth century CE), king
Indrapala donated a tract of land (whose boundaries were not mentioned)
for the upkeep of a Buddhist caitya. From these land grant
charters it appears that new settlements were expected to be set up
there. As R. S. Sharma and B. D. Chattopadhyaya have pointed out
these land grants to Buddhist viharas and other religious
institutions led to the creation of mathas and monastic
establishments in the early medieval period. The establishment of viharas
and the settlements of monks would no doubt have attracted settlers such
as cultivators, artisans, among others, whose services the institution
required. As B. D. Chattopadhyaya16 suggests these developments of the
early medieval period when looked at from the perspective of the region,
may be identified as crucial to the emergence of political or exchange
centres. Actually, by donating uncultivated land the kings apparently
expected the viharas to take the initiative in opening new areas
for settlement and production. The viharas had developed to the
point at which they seem to have the capabilities to assume such
responsibilities. Monasteries could disseminate agricultural and
scientific knowledge, articulate a value system and requirements of
social order and thus help economic and social consolidation. Eaton
has analysed these developments from a regional perspective and has
pointed out that except for Bihar, the rest of the eastern Indian
regions comprising Bengal, Orissa, and Assam witnessed late
detribalisation and peasantisation (beginning from the seventh century).
It was the period of state formation and land grants to both brahmanas
and monks was intended to strengthen and consolidates the king's
position. Both of these religious institutions acted as pacemakers in
the process. Pushpa Niyogi contends that from the fifth century CE
onwards, it was brahmana priests (despite being castigated by the
mainstream brahmanas), who took the lead in settling amidst Bengal's
aboriginals. According to
D. D. Kosambi, brahmanas became acceptable to autochthons due to the
agricultural knowledge they imparted to a society, which was yet to be
peasantised. The Buddhist monks, as the pace makers, were comparatively
a late entrant and got established during the Pala period in Bengal
(seventh-eighth century CE). But later, the brahmanas, due to their
better knowledge of agriculture (especially rice cultivation), the
calendar, and their ingenuity in constructing origin myths and enormous
capacity for legitimation, obtained an advantage over their Buddhist
counterparts. This advance was manifested in the shift of royal
patronage from Buddhism to Brahmanical sects, which became more visible
by the end of the eleventh century. These shifts are especially evident
in the artistic record of the period. Ronald Inden attributes
this to the better adaptability and resilience of the brahmanas to the
situation, in terms of their transformation from a sacrificial cult to a
gift-receiving sect, i.e., emphasis on the concept of Mahadana. N.
Lahiri, in his analysis of neighbouring Assam has noted a similar
process. On the basis of the epigraphic evidence and a study of the
present social structure in Assam, Lahiri believes that brahmanical
social stratification had a greater appeal among the autochthons due to
practical reasons; it was more suitable for an agrarian economy based on
division of labour. However, the role of Buddhist viharas as
harbingers of change in society in early medieval eastern India should
not be underestimated. The monasteries could disseminate agricultural
and scientific knowledge, articulate requirements of social order, and
help integrate communities economically and socially. These were in many
ways a continuation of its role in early historic times.
If we study the excavated mounds at
major sites like Nalanda, Vikramashila, Somapura and Ratnagiri it
appears that the construction of these mahaviharas was an outcome
of several mega-projects, most likely sponsored by the contemporary
rulers. All the above-mentioned sites are called mahaviharas or
'great monastery' because it consisted of several smaller viharas.
In other words, a mahavihara was a great university or research
institute consisting of several colleges; as such they were in their
time, the academic centres of India. Most of the mahaviharas
generally have two kinds of buildings: viharas and shrines. At
Nalanda, archaeological remains of the university and edifice is 1600
feet long from north to south and 800 feet long from east to west.
Eleven monasteries have been excavated thus far. A number of temples and
stupas of various sizes and forms are found on the western flank
of the main monastery. Ratnagiri comprises two magnificient monasteries,
also rebuilt more than once. One of them was double-storeyed and had an
extensive courtyard with two-sides of it having a number of cells for
habitation of monks. Besides, we have archaeological remains of six
temples, thousands of small stupas, 1386 seals, myriad sculptural
relics and architectural pieces of daily use. The largest stupa
was 47 feet square and 17 feet high surrounded by four minor stupas.
There are hundreds of miniature votive stupas decorated with
lotus, petal and beaded tassels. Of all these sites, Somapura appears to
be the largest established Buddhist institution. It was well planned and
homogeneous in the layout-the residential cells for the monks and the
temples were situated in a single well-defined compound. I-tsing who
stayed at Nalanda mahavihara for ten years (635-645 CE), has
mentioned in his account that "there were eight halls and three
hundred apartments resided by three thousand monks, and lands in its
possession, contain more than two hundred villages. They might have been
bestowed (upon the viharas) by kings of many
generations." Taranath in his account says that Dharmapala
built the Vikramashila viharas near the bank of Ganga, on the top
of a hillock. The Central temple rose in three traces and it was pancaratha
on the plan in all side except the northern side, which was saptaratha.
The central temple had a human size statue of Buddha. Around it were 53
smaller temples of Guhyasamaja and 54 common temples. Therefore, he
built in total 108 temples and the boundary walls. One hundred and
fourteen persons were provided with food and clothes-namely 108 panditas
and the bali-acarya, homa-acarya, musikapala-acarya, kapotapala-acarya,
and the supervisor of the devadasas. For each of them, he made
provisions that was sufficient for four." Taranath has also
mentioned that "during Ramapala's time, at Vikramasila viharas,
one hundred sixty panditas and one thousand monks permanently
resided and five thousand monks assembled for occasional offerings. And
in Vajrasana (Bodh Gaya) forty Mahayanis and two hundred Sravaka
bhiksus were maintained; occasionally ten thousand sravak bhiksus
congregated. In Odantipuri one thousand monks lived and occasionally,
twelve thousand monks assembled for ritual exercises."
Taranathhas mentioned that during the last phase of the 12th century
CE, Cingalaraja renovated all the temples at Vajrasana (Bodh Gaya) and
rebuilt the upper four storeys of the nine storeyed mahagandola,
which was destroyed by the Turuska's army. These evidences clearly
indicate that mahaviharas were of massive size and they involved
an elaborate infrastructure for the support of the Buddhist rituals.
Keeping in mind the prevalent
socio-economic and political conditions in eastern India, during the
early medieval period, these monastic establishments, which were
initially developed and maintained by royal patronage were too important
to be ignored by the kings of later generations.
As far as the funding of the early
medieval viharas are concerned, we have a total of 21 land grant
charters the rulers donated tracts of land and villages to the
monasteries for their upkeep. Only one inscription mentions monetary
endowments made by the king to some Baladitya vihara. These
charters describe in great detail the royal expenditure on various
Buddhist viharas and the ramified networks of interactions with
the countryside that supported the viharas' extensive ritual
On an administrative level, the parts
of the transactional network concerned with the funding and staffing of
the viharas entailed only one-sided material transactions
bringing services, agricultural produce and money into the viharas.
In return, the viharas gave honour and legitimacy to the
ruler on account of the goodwill they enjoyed among the masses.
So far we have discussed how Buddhist viharas
were massive institutions and in some cases several hundred villages
were attached to them for their maintenance. Since these viharas
encompassed vast regions comprising several villages, it became
practically impossible for the early medieval kings to ignore the
eastern Indian viharas from administrative point of view. We
should analyse these viharas at the organisational and
administrative levels. At the intra-vihara level we find that
each vihara had its own administrative arrangement, as an
important prerequisite for funding and staffing of the viharas on
permanent basis. And at the inter-vihara level, we get a picture
of complex relationship between several categories of viharas,
which were to some extent hierarchical in nature. For an example,
Nalanda mahavihara had a number of regional monasteries under its
control. At the same time it is seen that Nalanda had conferred upon the
village councils, known as janapadas, some authority over the
administration of villages. It is quite likely that the viharas,
for administrative reasons, became invaluable for the rulers. In other
words, the king's control of viharas meant control over vast
parts of its kingdom. Like the corporate bodies of south India (Sabha or
Ur), the viharas emerge as significant power centres within
different political structures.
Ideological role of the viharas
The viharas were an alternative
source of ideology and authority, which governed both social and
religious life. When those in power were patrons of such institutions
they were naturally seeking legitimation from the viharas apart
from their personal piety. Such donations to monasteries in their nature
were quite specific, while there could be others by the community, which
were more general. The community could patronize such monuments to seek
the protection of this alternative authority, as well as, to invoke it.
Monuments were never only religious or artistic structures related
merely to the domain of rituals. This notion was especially true in the
case of monuments supporting religious institutions. Romila Thapar
argues that, "there were also levels of authority written into the
symbolic understanding of the monuments." Kulke and S.
Bhattacharya in the context of Orissa and Bengal, respectively, have
shown the links between the sacred domain, the temple in this case, and
temporal power. However, it is Brahmanism and Brahmanical religion and
deities, who were absorbed into Brahmanism that has been the real
concern in the aforementioned studies. It may be interesting to
investigate the role of the viharas in similar areas. The subtle
ways in which patronage, authority and status are related to one another
and operate their mutual interrelationship in society is an immensely
fascinating area of study.
In early medieval history, the
interplay between the kings/states and the viharas at large
portrays a continuing awareness of the precariousness of order in every
sense of the word: cosmic, social and personal.35 There is repeated
testimony about the contagious nature of disorder, especially when
manifested within the viharas or by the kings. Disorder breeds
disorder, just as order can be promoted by order. In the Digha-Nikaya,
there is extensive discussion of the theory of the "Great Chosen
One" (Mahasammata) to support the centralisation of power in
king's hands as a check to those who misappropriate power and in whose
hand order becomes anarchy."
A survey of the donative records
suggests that most of the grants, especially that of land, came from the
kings, members of the royal family and officials of the state. This
emerging pattern of the grants warrants some explanation. In the context
of the hectic temple building activities and the massive patronage
extended to it by royalty in early medieval India, it can be said that
the socio-political compulsions of the ruling dynasties were involved in
such instances. Similarly, it can be argued that grants to brahmanas and
temples in the post-Gupta period immensely helped in the extension and
consolidation of the political and material foundations of the
state. The viharas appear to have played a similar role.
The desire on the part of the ruling dynasties to be perceived as being
non-partisan, as seen in their patronage of different religions, brings
out the inherent socio-political motives behind grants to religious
institutions. Although, in most of the charters the stated purpose was
merit or piety. However, when it emanates from royalty or influential
sections of society one will have to read meanings beyond what is
stated. In the context of early medieval grants to brahmanas, shrines
and temples, it has been stated that the grants to such institutions
drive home the nexus between political power and the sacred domain or
its agents, involving patronage for one and legitimation for the
As mentioned earlier, the normative
ideology of Buddhism appears to be the manifestation of social reality.
Like, Brahmanical institutions, Buddhist viharas thrived on
lavish donations made by the rulers and in return, the viharas
legitimised the latter's authority. The legitimising of authority rests
not only with those who exercise power but also with the institutions,
laws and values of the society, which sets criteria for legitimacy.
While religious traditions are not unique in being engaged in the
legitimation process, religion often invests social institutions with
enduring significance, "bestowing upon them an ultimately valid
cosmological status...by locating them within a sacred and cosmic frame
Sociologically speaking, the royal
donations were basically gift-exchange in which there was an element of
reciprocity and it is not impersonal as it is linked to an individual or
a group. Gift-exchange would, therefore, tend to become less
embedded in those primarily agricultural societies which experienced the
gradual impinging of changing of attitudes to land and the ownership of
land where land slowly emerges as the major economic unit. And the
accepted token of wealth is significant since wealth is a demonstration
of status; it is a means of controlling others by winning followers and
by playing those who accept the gift under obligation. Though in
theory all gifts are voluntary, disinterested and spontaneous, yet in
practice, they are obligatory and interested. If we study the
epigraphic sources we find that majority of land grants portray the
king's act as an altruistic measure primarily driven by religious
consideration. The example of Pala rulers of early medieval Bengal
illustrates this point. During this period four major mahaviharas
were built. Keeping in mind the economic status of the Pala rulers,
their disproportionate material support for monasteries does not appear
to be driven by mere religious consideration. It appears that the
king-monk relationship, during the Pala period, was based on a
patron-client relationship. The Pala kings made immense material
contributions to the viharas by sponsoring projects of vihara
construction and also donating land for their upkeep. The rulers
provided the monks stipends along with academic posts in the viharas,
which were hierarchical in nature.
In return, the monks in eastern India legitmised the kings' rule
in the society by tracing the kings' high-quality genealogies. We
have already discussed that various charters of land grants reflect
lavish royal donations to the viharas. The increasing reliance of
the viharas on lay society probably created changes in Buddhist
ideology, which had to offer its patrons a distant ideal of soteriology
with special reference to merit-making. For this purpose, the Buddhist viharas
created a model of ideal kingship and eulogised the contemporary ruler
by comparing him with the set of parameters. Contemporary literary
sources indicate that Pala rulers' donations to the Buddhist viharas
were also a pragmatic step to tap the support of these Buddhist viharas,
as they exercised considerable influence in the early medieval society.
The concept of Rastrapala or Dharmapala Buddha meant supplying
justification for a Buddhist king's non-Buddhist policy, such as resort
to violence. Taranath believes that the royal title "Pala"
was derived from Dharmapala (i.e., the protector of the Doctrine
and the World Order). To the Buddhists, Dhammapala meant protection of
the world order for the promotion of the Doctrine. It attributes
legitimacy only to monarchs who perceive the Buddha dhamma as the
essence of social order and harmony. Thus the king who internalises this
kind of legitimacy becomes the Dhammaraja, the protector of men
from worldly harm and privation of men and the active agent in founding
social order upon the order of the cosmos.
The symbolism of the nagas and
the yakshas in Buddhism may be given a temporal perspective and
can be seen as a justification for the detribalisation of the
autochthons. In the contemporary Buddhist sources, it appears that this
process of detribalisation faced some local resistance in eastern India.
According to a story in Taranath's account "all the kings prior
to Gopala were killed by the nagas. Since, Gopala was able to
survive the nagas attack by the grace of goddess Cunda, he
was elected a permanent king." In the same source, it is shown that
Devapala the successor of Gopala had Samudrapala, a naga, as his
father and the youngest queen of Gopala, as his mother. So Devapala was
not a natural son of Gopala and had a naga origin. Taranath further
says, that there were only seven 'real Palas' and "no Pala
ruler after Ramapala could be called a king, which means that none after
him, did much, if anything, for the Buddhist monasteries." Lama
Taranath has given an exhaustive list of the names of some of the
Pala rulers, who were competent, but not virtuous enough, to be termed
as the 'real Pala'. They were Rasapala, Sresthapala, Canaka, Bheyapala,
Mahipala, Vanapala, among others. According to Taranath, Buddhist
institutions traced the origin of Pala dynasty to the Sun and that of
the Senas to the moon. Therefore, in contemporary literature both the
Buddhist dynasties of eastern India were attributed divine origin.
Taranath mentions that in contemporary Buddhist sources, Dharmapala was
described as the incarnation of acarya Kambal-pa, for the
valuable service he rendered to this religion.
Some of the Pala rulers' failure to do something significant for
the Buddhist monastery, however, deprived them of this honour.
For example, Canaka rendered great service to the Law, but since
he did not belong to the line of Pala kings, he was excluded from the
elite club of seven members. King Vanapala worshipped the Buddhist
doctrine, but since they "left no mark of their hand"(i.e.,
they did not construct any new vihara), they were not considered
the 'real Palas'. Actually, the real Pala title was completely the
prerogative of the monks, as it is reflected from the fact that
Bheyapala, one of the Pala king was not conferred with this title by the
monks, just because he bestowed patras on only seventy panditas
of Vikramasila viharas. In Subhasitaratnakosa, D.D. Kosambi
finds the great monastic foundation at least as important as the royal
court for locating Vidyakara, who represented the poetic tradition of
Pala court. According to the author of this book, the royal court and
the viharas were intimately connected. Bodh Gaya (Vajrasan) had
older traditions but it came to days of its greatest glory under the
Palas, as did the new Pala foundation of Vikramasila, Odantipura and
Jagaddala. These viharas gave the title pandita (of the
institution in question) by royal command.54 The official title pandita
involved long study leading to a formal examination in the Buddhist
scriptures by the leading scholars of the particular viharas. The
successful candidate was granted a royal stipend along with the title.
Taranath also mentions that Jitaripada
"a great Buddhist acarya" from Varendri, who was
the priest of king Sanatana of Bengal (a vassal of Palas), was made the pandita
of Vikramasila vihara by king Mahipala with a special residence. The
date would be circa 940-980CE. In Taranatha's account, we come
across many titular terms like mahaupadhyaya, upadhyaya, pandita,
yogi, central pillar of the viharas, six doorkeeper
scholar, upasaka, patras and acaryas (like bali-acaryas,
siddhi-acaryas, Pratisthana-acaryas, Vajracaryas, mahacarya).
Some of these terms indicate hierarchical status bestowed upon the monks
by the king as a mark of recognition of contribution to the Buddhist
establishment. Stratification and hierarchy characterised the
organisation of the viharas in early medieval times, very much in
accordance with the contemporary social reality. It was not only
Buddhist but Jaina and Brahmanical establishments that exhibited such
tendencies. Lama Taranatha mentions that acarya Bodhisattva
first became a great pandita during Gopala's period and worked
for the welfare of the living beings, especially during the period of
Devapala and later became upadhyaya after making significant
contribution to the Buddhist Doctrines (Madhyamalamakara). In
another instance, Taranath says "Ramapala invited acarya
Abhayakaragupta to act as the upadhyaya of Vikramashila and
Nalendra. At this time one hundred sixty panditas and one thousand
acaryas permanently resided in Vikramashila." Taranath
describes Sataraksita as mahaupadhyaya, who was identical with acarya
Bodhisattva. So it seems that the title of upadhyaya and mahaupadhyaya
were associated with the head monks of the viharas. They were
recognised by the king as the head of the sacred domain. Titles like
central pillar of viharas, six-door keeper scholar (which were
conferred upon outstanding scholars for a very brief period), all
demonstrate close state and monastery relations. The titles of pandita,
patras, upadhyayas were attached to some posts in the viharas
and were granted by the king to the monks. Canaka introduced the title
of six-door keeper-scholar and granted it to six prominent monks of
Vikramashila viharas only. Bheyapala stopped this grant.
Similarly the title 'Central Pillar of the Vihara' was conferred upon
scholars residing in Vikramashila viharas. Title such as upasakas,
acaryas, yogi, among others, were common in all the viharas
and it was bestowed upon the monks by the institution itself, on account
of their association with their respective viharas. In Lama
Taranath's account we have several types of acaryas like bali-acarya,
siddhi-acarya, pratisthana-acarya, siddhiacarya,
and vajra-acarya, indicating their respective field of
specialisation. We have several instances, where these religious
institutions in their role as the legitimising authority became too
powerful and posed a major challenge to the ruling class. For example,
in Sri Lanka, the Buddhist viharas created major problem for the
king Mahasena in the fourth century, due to his differences with the
head of the sacred domain on the issue of interpretation of Uposattha.
However the king was able to save the situation by creating dissension
among the rank and files of the vihara-members, which ultimately
led to a schism. The Pala king's act of granting of titles and
fellowships to numerous monks of various categories individually,
therefore, must have enabled the king on the one hand to have a better
contact with the viharas, and on the other it was tantamount to
the decentralisation of authority in the viharas, as royal
recognition of religious achievement was not confined to a single
person. As already mentioned, though there was a post of head-monk in
the form of maha-upadhyaya, his function was of a very limited
nature. When Hsuan Tsang was admitted to the Nalanda vihara
the assembly of monks announced through the deputy incumbent, that Hsuan
Tsang would be entitled to use all commodities used by priests and all
appliances of religion, in common with the rest. The head monk was more
concerned about the religious activity of the monastery and his deputy
was in charge of the general affair. I-tsing mentioned that when any
business occurred, the assembly settled it. Thus, consciously or
unconsciously Pala kings adopted a very pragmatic step for the monks in
In Buddhist sources, viharas appear to be thoroughly organised to perform as centres of learning and as agencies of legitimising king's rule in the region. We have occasional references to similar other religious institutions, like Brahmanical temples and Jain temples, however, which posed themselves as competitors of the Buddhist viharas, in providing ideological support to the contemporary rulers because of their mass-support. Taranath mentions that Kumarila, a Buddhist monk, defeated nirgrantha Rahuvrati, the mimamsaka Bhringaraguhya, the brahmana Kumararananda, the tirthika leader of debate Kanadaroru and all other rivals who lived in the Vindhyacala. "Kumaralila's acarya Dharmakirti defeated Samkaracarya repeatedly in Varanasi and converted many of his (Samkara's) disciples into the followers of the Law of the Buddha, who by now were parivrajaka brahmacaris and others ran away." During the period of Devapala a Magadhan tirthika yogi came in the tutelage of a Buddhist monk to attain true siddhi." Taranath says, "according to the prediction of Mahakala, all the temples of the tirthikas automatically fell into ruins. Thus, in all about forty centres of the tirthikas were ruined. Some of these were in Bhamgala and Varendra." Devapala, inspired by a yogi Siromani, raised an army to attack Odivisa and other places, which were previously the centres of the insiders, but by this period it came under the influence of the tirthikas only." According to Taranath, the Sravaka Sendhava misguided the people by preaching, "that which is called Mahayana is only a source of livelihood for those who follow the wrong view. Therefore, keep clear of these so-called preachers of the 'True Doctrine'. In this way, they used to draw people towards themselves." These references reflect some degree of tension between the Buddhist viharas and other religious institutions, competing to gain primacy in society during the period. Viharas remained the dominant religious institution, especially during the reign of the Palas and Senas in Bengal and to a lesser extent in Orissa under the Bhaumakaras. However, their mass-base in eastern India, got gradually eroded by the rise of Brahmanical temples, owing to the latter's better knowledge of agriculture and seasons and wider socio-political functions. Taranath also mentions that "already after the death of king Dharmapala, the number of tirthikas and mlechhas gradually increased in the kingdom of Bhamgala and Ayodhya, north of the Ganga. The number of tirthikas became numerous in Kamaru(pa), Tirahuti, and Odivisa. He goes on to state that "during the time of four Senas, the number of tirthikas went on increasing even in Magadha. There also came many Persian followers of the mlechha view. To protect Odantipuri and Vikramashila, the king even converted these partially into fortresses and stationed some soldiers."
The early medieval period witnessed the
rise of Tantra, which led to intense ritual activities in the viharas.
Gradually, ritual activities became the symbol and means of achieving
authority. Pala rulers bestowed upon the monks various royal titles as a
mark of recognition of the monks' religious achievements in the form of
performing rituals in the viharas. Some of the Pala kings
accepted those Buddhist monks as their preceptors, who acted as their
(kings') guru. For an example, "Dharmapala accepted as his
preceptor Haribhadra and Jnanapada and filled all direction with Prajña-paramita
and the Sri-Guhya-samaja. These two panditas were offered the
highest seat of honour." They provided religious justification for
the rulers' policies, which carried weight in the society. In his
accession to the throne, Devapala's Buddhist preceptor had advised
him to--"Prepare a wick from the clothes of the sramanas and
obtain oil from the houses of kings and merchants and get a lamp from
the hermitage, light it, put it before the tutelary deity and pray.
After this you should build the monastery where the incarnation of the
Protector of Doctrine (Dharmapala) will drop the lamp that will bring
prosperity to the king and the blessedness all around." After the
death of Haribhadra, the preceptor of Dharmapala, Haribhadra's disciple
Buddhajnanapada became the king preceptor. Shortly after he consecrated
the Vikramasila vihara and was appointed as the Vajracarya
Buddhajnanapada suggested to Dharmapala--"There are indications
of the ruin of the dynasty during the rule of your grandson. Perform the
great homa so that the dynasty may last long." Accordingly
Dharmapala got the homa performed for many years by the
vajradharas with the acaryas as their chief and offered during this,
articles worth nine lakh and two thousand tolas of silver. Then the
acarya predicted to the king that "twelve of your successors will
be king and up to your fifteenth descendant in particular, many
countries will be under their rule and the Buddhist law also will be
extensively spread." This prediction came true. In Taranath's
account there are several instances where the monks performed various
types of rituals and Tantric exercises to help the monarch. Taranath
says that when Vikramashila vihara was attacked by Turuska
(Turkish) army, Prajñaraksita, the Buddhist preceptor of king Bheyapala,
made big offerings to Cakrasamvara and the army was struck by terrible
famine four times, thus repelling the Turuska attack. In another
instance, Taranath talks about Lilavajra, a scholar of Tantrika
scripture who attained Yamari siddhi and defeated Turuska
soldiers by drawing Yamari cakra. In one fine instance,
Taranath has mentioned that a Buddhist monk named Silakirti, made
various preparation of elixir and gave these to others. By these one
could reach the age of 150 and old men became young. In this way, he
caused welfare to about 500 monks and "pious members" of the
royal household. All these accounts are too conventional to be accepted
at face value. However, they definitely give us an idea that the
importance of rituals and their mystical power, which was very much in
vogue at that time, drew the kings closer to the Buddhist viharas.
During the early medieval period all
major eastern Indian viharas were the centres of ritual
activities, which was an integral part of Vajrayana sect. Ritual
popularised the dry ideologies of a limited number of renouncers,
converting it into a mass-oriented system. Mahayana Buddhism succeeded
in popularising itself with masses. It opened way for lay society's
participation in the religion. The custom of monks and lay people coming
together on the uposatha day helped to popularise religion and
propagate it in the early medieval period. Both donors and donees needed
more and more sumptuous and luxurious ritual performances which were
thought to supply reciprocal merits to both sides. Rituals, which
necessitated exotic and valuable goods, especially various kinds of
incenses, in some respect played a role in intensifying social
differences. The king and the elite class tried their best to show off
and stabilise their social status by offering incenses as varied as
possible. But the general masses simply could not afford them. Thus it
helped the king to overawe the masses by the pomp and show of the
rituals. In a way, it helped the ruler to draw some respect from the
general people. I-tsing mentions Caitya-vandana or the worship of caitya
in Tamralipti in his account. He saw the same ceremony in Nalanda in a
different way. He states that in India Uposattha became a colourful
festival after the introduction of the ceremony of image-worship. It was
a ritual worship of Buddha. The monks were invited by laymen to
officiate as priests, winding up the worship with offerings of flowers,
chanting of hymns and recital of holy legends. This activity was
followed by sumptuous feast given by the host to the invited monks.
According to I-tsing, "the host approaches the priests and after
the salutation, invites them to the festival and the ceremony of
feasting monks by a householder is observed on a scale so grand that all
the trays and plates are full of the cakes and rice left over, and
melted butter and cream can be partaken of to one's hearts
content." Thus, through these rituals, the king was able to
overawe the masses by its pomp and show, which in a way helped the ruler
to draw some respect from the general people.
Finally, we will try to examine the
relationship between the concept of kingship as evolved in viharas,
and the exercise of legitimate authority by kings in early medieval
eastern India. In the entire history of eastern India, during the early
medieval period, no event is accorded more importance for the
establishment of legitimate authority than the founding of Buddhist
kingship during the reign of Dharmapala. "Immediately after
ascending to the throne, the king invited the teachers of the Prajña-paramita.
He accepted Haribhadra and Jnanapada as his preceptor and filled all
directions with the Prajña-paramita and the Sriguhyasamaja.
He built in all about fifty centres for the Doctrine, of which
thirty-five were centres for the study of the Prajña-paramita.
He also built the Vikramashila vihara. He was an incarnation of acarya
Kambala-pa." This episode constitutes the classical designing
both of what kingship means and how it was to be regularised.
During the early medieval period,
eastern Indian rulers were primarily concerned about the maintenance of
social harmony, political stability and economic welfare of the kingdom.
To fulfill such fundamental duties, the monarch had some rights like
rights over land usage and superior ownership and, in a situation of
graded land rights, privilege to levy various kinds of taxes, it was
clear to kings that unless legitimation was rooted in effective response
to the everyday needs of society, their claim to cosmic status was of
small comfort. The converse was equally true, i.e., with
the maintenance of these benefits royal authority was enhanced. The
Neulpur charter of Subhakara describes the king as a paramasaugata
and 'upholder of the varnashrama dharma', who ''puts four varnas in
their proper places''. The Bhagalpur plates of Narayanapala also
mention the king Narayanapala as an ardent Buddhist (Paramasaugata).
According to Taranath, the Pala dynasty was Surya or solar dynasty and
the Sena rulers of lunar (Candra) lineage. Some Pala rulers' failure to
do something significant for the Buddhist monastery deprived them of
Viharas acted as the
most crucial factor in limiting royal power Because of the viharas’
closeness to the people and because of its role in lending cohesiveness
to the realm, a monastic community was invaluable asset to effective
kingship. As mentioned earlier, for legitimation, there is a need for
reciprocity between key elements in the society. In the political field,
power arrangements continuously shift and legitimation of authority
needs regularly to be renewed. As P.L. Berger indicates, the
legitimating formulae of any community need reaffirmation, even when no
threat or challenge exists.
Because most of the available source
material from early medieval eastern India comes either from the monks
of the viharas or from kings in the form of royal inscriptions,
one would expect notions of reciprocity to dwell frequently on the
relationship between the viharas and monarchy. While this is
true, one may read between the lines for some picture of what was
actually a more pluralistic reciprocity, with various groups within
society and the populace in general being the other two participants.
Indeed, as reflected in contemporary literary evidence, a rich heritage
of ideology, symbolism and rituals existed in eastern India during the
early medieval period. The following discussion identifies three aspects
of nurturing of legitimation, each involving the king, the viharas
and the people in various ways: the normative quality of kingship,
centring primarily on its responsibility to protect and further the
Dhamma; and the role of ritual and ceremony in keeping alive not just
the memory of the Buddha, but also faith in the doctrine's power.
The emphasis placed upon the vihara's
purity has been central from the tradition's beginning, relating this to
an ideology of merit. As mentioned earlier, later on merit became
transferable among pious followers. The modern dynamics of this have
been carefully discussed by S.J. Tambiah, who shows how the ascetic monk
becomes "an intermediary who can reach up to mystical powers
associated with the Buddha and the sacred text (in Thailand), and who
can in turn transfer these powers to the layman in a form that can
positively sacralize this life and the next." As the king is
ideally the mediator between the body politic and the cosmic realm, so
the vihara's plenipotentiary role helps to provide sacral meaning
to mundane existence and the human odyssey. In Heitzman's88 words,
"religious institutions (like viharas) were crucial for
linking local systems into larger organizational units; every person or
group who controlled political power or economic power joined in
patterns of religious patronage." The concept of ritual polity
postulated by Heitzman puts forward a triangle of sacred kings,
ideological cum religious systems, and localized productive relations as
closely allied components in the growth of early states and economies.
The role of the king as protector of the Dhamma was in direct
correlation with his role as chief patron of the viharas, though
it went beyond this role as well. Aside from the direct advantages of
various land grants and other endowments which kings made available to
monasteries, without which they could not have flourished, royal
beneficence was also seen as a model for others, in spirit if not in
kind. The importance attached by the compilers of the chronicles to the
generosity of kings was not simply out of appreciation for what the viharas
received materially. It was also recognition that monarchs well disposed
toward the livelihood of the monks furthered Dhamma in a number
of ways, beyond the maintaining of order and justice within society. In
the process, not only was the Dhamma enhanced and nurtured; the
whole process of legitimation was deepened through this internalisation.
The most standard and conspicuous way by which society's roots in the sacred realm underwent reaffirmation was through ceremonies, festivals and other forms of rituals. I-tsing mentions caitya-vandana or the worship of caitya in Tamralipti in his account. It is true that the performance of rituals had its less elevated dimensions. It became an instrument of mass participation in the religious affairs and also an important instrument of the process of reminding, again and again, as well as reaffirming and reassuring. In conclusion, it should be emphasised that rituals became a means for seeking legitimacy by royal patrons during the early medieval period.
A major source of information for our work is the
various excavated sites depicting ruins of early medieval sanghas.
Although most of them are in highly dilapidated conditions, these sites
throw ample light on our area of research. The discussion of these
archaeological data will automatically better our understanding of early
medieval sanghas in eastern India. As there are innumerable sites
corresponding to our period, it is difficult to quantify their exact
numbers. However, to have some idea about them we have worked out a list
of some of the major as well as minor sites (with state-wise
configuration) as follows:
In Bengal—1. Somapura mahasangha (identified with Paharpur in Rajshahi district of Bangaladesh); 2. Jagaddala sangha (Barind region of Bangladesh); 3. Raktamrittika sangha (in Murshidabad district of West Bengal); 4. Pattikera sangha (identified with Mainamati-Lalmai Ridge in the Tippera district of Bangladesh); 5. Bhasur sangha (near Mahasthan, Bogra district in Bangladesh); 6. Tamralipti sangha (identified with Tamluk in Midnapur district of West Bengal); 7. Sitakot sangha; 8. Jhewari (in Chittagong district of Bangladesh); 9.The minor sites include Halud sangha (near Paharpur), Pandita sangha (in Chittagong district, Bangladesh).
In Orissa—1. Ratnagiri mahasangha (on a small stream called Keluaa in Cuttack district); 2. Puspagiri sangha (identified with the contiguous hills of Lalitagiri and Udayagiri in Cuttack district); 3.Achutrajpur (in Puri district); 4. Khiching (in Mayurbhanj district); 5.The minor sites are situated at Vajragiri (in Cuttack district), and Bhorasila sangha (Puri district).
In Bihar—1. Nalanda mahasangha (in Biharsharif district); 2.Vikramashila mahasangha (in Bhagalpur district); 3. Kurkihar (in Gaya district); 4. Minor sites at Taradih (Gaya district), Ghosrawan (Biharsharif district).
In Assam, not a single sangha has been
excavated as yet, so we have only minor sites at Deo-Parvat,
Dahparvatiya, and Tezpur (all in Golaghat subdivision).
There are a total of 59 inscriptions related with the Buddhist sanghas, in eastern India during the time span of 500-1200 CE. Twenty-one of these inscriptions are land grants ranging from small plots to vast areas covering several villages. The remaining 38 inscriptions record donations of other kinds made by various types of people to different Buddhist sanghas (monk as community) as well as to certain individual monks. A regional analysis of these land grants indicates that the highest number of land grants came from Bengal (8) followed by Orissa (6), Bihar (5) and Assam (1). Chronologically speaking, the majority of land grants belong to the time span of seventh-eighth century CE, while few of them may be ascribed to the period tenth to twelfth century CE.
These inscriptions constitute the major source for our study, and the majority of them in the form of royal land grants. This type of grant was often engraved on the copper plates, but a few written on stone have also been found. The royal charters were not only the king’s announcement of the endowment, but were also official orders decreed upon the government officers and the villagers concerned. Though the contents of the royal land grants of our period show considerable variety, the general pattern of the charters was almost similar. Some grants begin with the genealogy of the rulers and then enumerate the details of the grant. The records are concluded with some imprecatory verses and mention the name of the scribes and the engravers. The section giving the details of the grant contains valuable information for the study of land system, taxation as well as the privileges and immunities transferred to the donees. Moreover, it provides the details concerning the type of land, nature of cultivation and sometimes the exact area of land donated. Although some land grants that are not in the form of the above pattern, they too often provide details of the types of land, boundaries, cultivation, among other details. Almost all the donatory inscriptions contain information pertaining to the nature of endowment and the donee. Sometimes they mention the purpose for which the benefaction was made. These details furnish valuable information for studying the extent of property held by the Buddhist sanghas and their involvement in economic activities. Besides, they help determine the type of property donated, the nature of the patronage, which the institution received. The inscriptions have the unique importance of being contemporary sources. Moreover, in many cases, they can definitely be dated and located; hence, their information can be useful in determining the chronology of development of sanghas in various parts of eastern India during the early medieval period.
Apart from the donatory inscriptions, we have used a large number of inscriptions on seals and sealings found at the site of great monastery of Nalanda and Ratnagiri (1386 in number). Though many religious institutions used seals for administrative purposes, only Nalanda has yielded a large number of seals and sealings containing valuable information. Most of the legends on the Nalanda seals and sealings have been deciphered and translated; yet some of them need more careful reading and interpretation. The value of the information, which can be gathered from the seals, depends largely upon the interpretation of terms used in legends. Their information can be used mainly for the study of the administrative organisation of the Nalanda Mahasangha and also of its relations with regional monasteries and various outside bodies. The unique importance of the seals and sealings lies in the valuable light they throw on certain aspects of the internal administration of the institution and also the way in which it exercised its authority over the villages under its control, aspects which are not brought to light by other sources.
In addition, the inscriptions are not evenly spread over the region under consideration. Thus, Orissa has yielded the largest number of inscriptions, whereas only a few have come to light from Assam. Hence, it becomes extremely difficult to study the various stages of development of certain aspects of the economic functions of sanghas. Moreover, the value of inscriptions as a source for a study of this type largely depends upon the possibility of explaining various terms and expressions mentioned in them. One has to rely on etymology, though it is not always a satisfactory method. On the other hand, certain terms, though clear by themselves, do not enlighten us as to their specific relevance to the subject. Therefore one has, for the interpretation of such terms, to consider evidence from other regions. Yet, the accuracy of any interpretation based on evidence from other regions, may be questionable on the ground of possible regional variations.
Among the literary sources, we have used for the present study the most important information comes from the records of the Chinese travellers. The Chinese monk Hsuan Tsang, who travelled in India in the first half of the seventh century CE, has recorded his experience and impressions of various institutions and individuals. I-tsing, who went to India a few decades after Hsuan Tsang, has also recorded an account of his visit. Although Hsuan Tsang visited many places in both north and south India, I-tsing’s associations were limited to eastern India. Both of them spent much of their time studying and copying Buddhist scriptures and they have left valuable memoirs of several Buddhist monasteries in eastern India. However, their information is largely limited to the function and organisation of larger monasteries such as Nalanda, and therefore very little is revealed about the management of affairs of other monasteries. Yet, theirs is the only available information on certain aspects of economic function of Buddhist monasteries. In this respect, I-tsing’s records contain more details than the account of Hsuan Tsang. I-tsing presents a full discussion of various problems arising from disciplinary matters within the sanghas and that out of organisation and function of the sanghas. Fa-hsien’s record as compared to Hsuan Tsang’s and I-tsing’s records, is less informative on the aforesaid issues. Of all these sources, the inscriptions, though remaining the most important source for our study, are necessarily limited in number for our period of about 650 years.
As regards the accounts of Chinese travellers, their evidence is entirely limited to the affairs and organisation of the Buddhist institutions. Even that information is based largely on the larger monasteries, where the travellers spent most of their time. Besides, the travellers were not interested in recording any possible difference in the conditions and organisation of the establishments belonging to various Buddhist schools. Above all, their main concern was to record the condition of Buddhism in India and to study how the Buddhist Vinaya was practised by the Indian monks, and therefore, any information on the social and economic functions of the Buddhist monasteries are found only in incidental references. Owing to these limitations, it is inevitable that many questions would remain unanswered.
For South Indian temples, see Spencer, G.W.
'Temple money lending and livestock redistribution in early
Tanjore', Indian Economic and Social History Review, V, 1968,
A.K. Narain, Studies in History of Buddhism, 197.
Epigraphia Indica [hereafter EI], XII, 106.
Ibid., XX, 43-44.
Ibid, XXVIII, 321.
Archaeological Survey of India Review [hereafter ASR], III, 126.
EI, XVII (1923-24), 321-322,1133-37.
Ibid., XXI, 98-99.
S. Dutt, Buddhist Monks and Monasteries, London, 1962; rep.
Delhi, 1982, 209.
P.C. Dasgupta, Studies in Archaeology, 309-315.
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh [hereafter JASB],
IV, 1908, 101.
Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Society [hereafter JBORS],
IV, pt. III, 1918, 266-80.
Indian Historical Quarterly [hereafter IHQ], VI, 1930,
EI, XV, 306-309.
B. D. Chattopadhyaya, Article in R. Thapar (ed) Recent perspective...;
R. S. Sharma, chapter 'Medieval Monastic Settlement' in Urban Decay
in Ancient India, Delhi, 1987.
Richard M. Eaton, Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1706,
Berkeley, 1993, 3-21.
Puspa Niyogi, Brahmanic Settlements in Different Subdivisions of
Ancient Bengal, 4, 19-20.
D. D. Kosambi, "The Basis of Ancient Indian History," Journal
of American Oriental Studies
75, pt.1, 1955, 36.
Susan L Huntington, The Pala-Senas School of Sculpture- Studies in
South Asian Culture, Leiden,
Ronald Inden, "The Ceremony of the Great Gift (Mahadana): Structure
and Historical Context in Indian Ritual and Society," in Marc
Gaborieau and Alice Thorner, Asie du sud: Traditions et changements
(Paris: Centre national de la recherché scientifique, 1979), 131-136.
Nayanjot Lahiri, "Landholding and Peasantry in the Brahmaputra
Valley 5th-13th centuries CE," Journal of the Economic and
Social History of the Orient, vol. 33, no. 2 (June 1990): 166.
See for example H. P. Ray, The Winds Of Change: Buddhism and The
Maritime Links of South Asia, Delhi, 1986.
A.K. Narain, op.cit., 197.
J. Takakusu, A Record of the Buddhist religion as practiced in India
and Malaya Archipelago by I-tsing, Oxford, 1896, reprint, Delhi,
Taranath, History of Buddhism in India, Potala edition (1946);
tr. Lama Chimpa and Alka Chattopadhyaya, ed. Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya
from Tibetan, Simla, 1970, 274.
Ibid., op. cit., 320.
Based on Heitzman's model.
A large number of seals and sealings found at Nalanda, and Ratnagiri
provide valuable data for the study of certain aspects of monastic
administration, which are not mentioned in the accounts of the Chinese
travelers. The majority of the seals bear the legend Sri Nalanda mahavihara
caturdisya bhikshusanghasya) which may be translated as [the seal]
of the samgha of venerable Bhikshus of the four quarters at the
Nalanda, mahavihara. (H. Sastri, 'Nalanda and its Epigraphic
Material', MASI, 1942, 39-40). Similarly in Ratnagiri mahavihara,
1386 seals have been found, out of which majority of them were issued by
the mahavihara with the legend depicted on it as Sri-Ratnagiri-mahavihariya
a(a)rya-bhikshu-sa(m)ghasya. As these seals refer to the entire
community of monks at Nalanda, and Ratnagiri respectively, it is evident
they were used to denote the authority of the general assembly of monks.
One of the seals refers to a monastery in the mahavihara; this
seal bears the legend [Nalanda,] yam sri-sakraditya-krita-[vi]hare
catur ddisi-arya ma(ma)-ha bhikshu-sanghasya. (H. Sastri, op.cit.
p.38, no. s-1 848.) If the reading of this inscription is accepted, the
legend may be translated as [the seal] of the samgha of the four
quarters in the monastery caused to be built by Sri Sakraditya, at
Nalanda. Obviously, there were several other monasteries or viharas
of this kind on the premises of the Nalanda mahavihara.
Nalanda and its Epigraphic Materials, 37, seal no. 455, 40. A few
other sealings, found at Nalanda, though referring to various other
monasteries, bear the Dhamacakra symbol of the Nalanda mahavihara.
The use of the Dharmacakra symbol on the seals of other monasteries
seems to indicate that those monasteries were either subordinate to
Nalanda or were subsidiary institutions. Thus it is evident that the
Nalanda mahavihara had a network of subordinate monasteries in
A. Ghosh, Nalanda and its Epigraphic Materials, Delhi, 1939, 47,
seal no. s. 9 r.144 (pl. V, a)--In one instance, one of the janapadas
was associated with the monastery of the villages.
R. Thapar, 'Patronage And Community', ed. Recent Perspectives of
Early Indian History, Bombay, 1995, 23.
H. Kulke, 'Early State Formation and Royal Legitimation inTribal Areas
of Eastern India', in R. Moser and M. K. Gautam (ed.), Aspects of
Tribal Life in South Asia I: Strategy and Survival, Berne, 1978,
B.S. Miller, The Powers of Arts, Delhi, 1992.
Dialogues of Buddha, Tr. T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davis, 1921,
London, III, 77-94.
H. Kulke, "Fragmentation, Segmentation versus Integration,"
Studies in History, vol. IV, 1982.
B. D. Chattopadhyaya, 'Historiography, History and Religious Centres:
Early Medieval North India circa CE 700-1200', in Vishakha N. Desai
(ed.) Gods, Guardians and Lovers, North Indian Temple Sculptures, c
.CE 700-1200, Ahmedabad, 1993, 34-46.
See for example B. D. Chattopadhyaya, "Political process and the
Structure of Polity in Early medieval India-Problems of
Perspective" in Making of Early Medieval India, New Delhi,
1994. Also see H. Kulke, processural model in The State in India,
1000-1700, New Delhi, 1992.
Peter L.Berger,The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory
of Religion, New York, 1969, 33.
Marcel Mauss, The Gift (New York, 1967), 45 ff.
Romilla Thapar, Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations,
New Delhi, 1987, 107.
Cf. Marcel Mauss, op. cit., 1.
Taranath, op. cit.,
Subhasitaratnakosa, ed. D.D. Kosambi and V.V. Gokhale, Harvard
Oriental Series, vol. 42, 1957, XXXVI.
See Taranatha, 243, 247, 250.
Taranath, op. cit., 230.
R. S. Sharma, "The Feudal Mind," in Social Science Probings,
Ibid., 257-330 ff.
Tilak Hettiarchchy, History of Kingship in Ceylon up to the fourth
century CE, 143, esp. Ch. on "The Relationship between the King
and the Sangha," 116-143.
S. Beal, tr. Si-Yu-Ki, Buddhist Records of the Western World: Chinese
Accounts of India, London, 1881, 106.
J. Takakusu, op. cit., 63.
Taranath, op.cit., 262.
R. Eaton, op. cit., 3-21.
Taranath, op. cit., 314.
J. Takakusu, op. cit., 41-42.
Taranath, op. cit., 274-75.
Contemporary rulers in Orissa believed in and patronised Buddhism and
its institutions, but they do not seem to have engaged in anything
similar to this. The Buddhist complexes at Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and
Udasyagiri are good examples of regional patronage
EI, XV, 1-8.
Indian Antiquary, XV, 304 ff.
Taranath, op. cit., 271-310.
Stanley J. Tambiah, 'The Ideology of Merit', in E. R. Leach (ed). Dialectic
in Practical Religion, 116.
James Hitzman, Ritual, 24; "Polity and economy: the
transactional network of an imperial temple in medieval South
India," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient,
Amit Jha is a lecturer in the Department of History at Sri Aurobindo College, Delhi University, India.
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