Volume 64 Number 4, June 2013
Living Rock: Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Cave Temples in the Western Deccan
|Specifications:||140 pages, 120 illustrations|
|Dimensions:||305 x 241 mm|
From the 2nd century BCE to the 10th century CE, rock-cut temples and monasteries appeared at various sites in the subcontinent – most notably across the western Deccan. Carved on the edge of the basaltic plateau, the cave sites were strategically placed near ancient trade routes and fertile land, and showcased a variety of architectural spaces for different worship practices and monastic uses.
Living Rock offers new perspectives into to this fascinating world of cave temples. With a wealth of extant material evidence, rather than a comprehensive survey of rock-hewn temples, it presents selected case studies that explore fresh avenues of investigation. The contributions by archaeologists, art historians, historians and scholars of religion trace the cultural and religious phenomena associated with the development of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave sites in the western Deccan. Some investigative models proposed in this book suggest new relationships between literary and visual evidence; others follow threads connecting cave centres to religious and artistic contexts located outside the western Deccan in an attempt to place the rock-cut monuments in a wider cultural landscape.
Pia Brancaccio is Associate Professor of Art History at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA. She has done extensive research on the Buddhist caves of the western Deccan, Gandharan art, and multiculturalism in the art of ancient South Asia. Her publications include: The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion (2011) and Gandharan Buddhism: Archaeology, Art and Text (co-edited with Kurt Behrendt 2006).
What’s in a Name? Rethinking “Caves”
Early Historic Junnar: Archaeology and Art
The King and the Monastery: The Pandu Lena at Nashik
Himanshu Prabha Ray
Guntupalle: The Oldest Rock-Cut Buddhist Monastery in the Eastern Deccan
Shakyabhikshus at the Brazen Glen: Mahayana Reoccupation of an Old Monastery at Pithalkhora
Post-Vakataka Monuments: The Legacy of Ajanta
Walter M. Spink
Buddhist Caves of the Deccan: Art, Religion and Long-Distance Exchange in the 5th and 6th Centuries
Ellora Cave 16 and the Cult of the Twelve Jyotirlingas
Benjamin J. Fleming
Relationships between Art, Architecture and Devotional Practices at Ellora
Lisa N. Owen
This volume moves away from traditional analytical models and offers a different perspective of the world of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves of the western Deccan. It looks simultaneously within and beyond the regional boundaries to discover how local artistic idioms and contacts with distant areas of the subcontinent impacted the form and function of the caves. Prominent scholars like Vidya Dehejia, M.K. Dhavalikar, R.S. Gupte, Ratan Parimoo, T.V. Pathy, Walter Spink and Suresh Vasant have discussed in detail questions of chronology and iconography, greatly advancing our knowledge of these monuments.
In his commentary to the Sakkapanna Sutta, a Pali text in the Dighanikaya, Buddhaghosa remarked that caves were unsuitable places for the Buddha to reside, while elaborately carved rock-cut temples were fit places for his august presence. Taking that as its starting point, this essay explores depictions of caves in Buddhist art and literary references to caves and temples, to suggest that caves and temples were understood to be very different kinds of spaces. Caves were wild places, places of potential danger, while temples were elegant sites for worship. The essay makes use of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu texts and inscriptions as its sources.
This article reports on the excavations conducted by Deccan College (Pune) in the Junnar plain – the first capital of the Satavahana rulers and its surrounding rivers Kukdi, Mina and Pushpavati rivers below the 210 Buddhist caves. These excavations revealed the presence of a thriving habitation site coeval with the rock-cut monuments at groups of caves here – Ganesha and Tulja Lena caves and those on Shivneri and Manmodi hills; the inhabitants surely interacted with the community of monks. This finding suggests that the rock-cut religious sites of the western Deccan were not intended to be completely secluded from society but were integral to its fabric.
The caves at Nashik, locally known as Pandu Lena were excavated into the rockface from the 1st century BCE to the 3rd century CE. The Buddhist caves are connected to the west coast through Thalghat, a pass in the Sahyadri range, which also explains the maritime orientation of the inscriptions. This essay not only highlights the uniqueness of the Pandu Lena caves in terms of architectural developments, but also assesses the extent to which the inscriptions at the site redefined concepts of kingship. The Buddhist caves have generally been studied along with other rock-cut centres in the western Deccan. It is suggested here that the maritime focus evident at Nashik links it to the wider sailing networks that included Buddhist centres in Gujarat in the early centuries of the Common Era.
This is the first comprehensive study published on Guntupalle, an important group of Buddhist rock-cut monuments located in Andhra Pradesh. It discusses the history and architectural developments of Guntupalle and explores the close relationships of this cave site with the early rock-cut centres at Kondivite and Junnar in the western Deccan. It also stresses the importance of Guntupalle’s Buddhist monastery in studying the development of Buddhist art and architecture.
During the late Vakataka period, or perhaps shortly thereafter, a number of long-dormant rock-cut monasteries located throughout the Deccan plateau appear to have experienced a brief period of reinvigoration. In almost all instances, the only visible evidence of reoccupation at these monasteries is the presence of numerous, haphazardly placed, painted and sculpted “votive” images, often confined primarily to only a single area of the site. This body of imagery from the Deccan has collectively received only scant attention, and consequently it has been mired in both obscurity and, unfortunately, an alarmingly poor state of preservation. In this regard, there are a number of long-neglected paintings from the Buddhist monastery at Pitalkhora that may be of considerable interest. This article seeks to argue that they provide evidence for the emergence of a Mahayana community in the 5th century at what was almost certainly an abandoned, presumably derelict monastery.
At the end of the 5th century CE, the great Vakataka emperor Harishena and his feudatories were deeply involved in the patronage of the magnificent Buddhist caves at Ajanta. When Harishena suddenly died at the end of 477 CE, the world of central India rapidly fell apart. While the subsequent complex historical circumstances led to the abrupt interruption of Vakataka involvement at this cave site, it is hard to believe that the artistic legacy of Ajanta vanished with the end of Harishena’s supremacy over the region. The present article re-examines a few early 6th-century sites and suggests that some of the monuments identified in the scholarship as being post-Gupta in style should be most properly recognized as being post-Vakataka, following in the great artistic lineage of the Ajanta caves.
This essay discusses some architectural and iconographic innovations that emerged in the Buddhist caves of the Ajanta region during the 5th and 6th centuries CE, when the area experienced a major revival of rock-cut activity. By placing some of these innovations in comparative context, the paper suggests that a channel of communication existed across the Buddhist world connecting the western Deccan to the ancient region of Gandhara in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, and to sites along the Silk Road. The movement of Buddhist devotees between the 5th and 6th centuries, both monastic and lay, facilitated the exchange of ideas among these distant regions.
This article examines parallels between relief carvings at Ellora cave 16 (Kailasha temple) and later Sanskrit myths drawn from a cycle of stories preserved within the Shivapurana tradition about the twelve jyotirlingas (lingas of light) of the Hindu deity Shiva. In particular, the writer examines the myths dedicated to Vaidyanatha in Jnana Samhita 55–56 and KotirudraSamhita 28 which rework well known themes from earlier epic and poetic sources: Ravana’s Sacrifice and the Shaking of Kailasa. The Shivapurana gives the myths an exclusively Shaiva focus. The writer contends that this devotional shift is first mediated through the iconography of cave 16 between the 8th and 9th centuries CE, a century or two prior to the redaction of the relevant sections of the Shivapurana between the 10th and 14th centuries. Such theological shifts within artistic and textual sources reflect a broader trend, within medieval Shaivism, of pan-geographic self-awareness within the subcontinent.
This essay explores artistic and devotional interactions at the rock-cut site of Ellora through an examination of a select Jain cave (J25) and its connections to other monuments across the site. This case study reveals that initial Jain activity occurred much earlier than the attributed 9th century and that Ellora was a vibrant, sacred centre for Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities in the early 8th century. Importantly, this study challenges the scholarship on Ellora that asserts that the caves were created in separate religious phases. By examining the artistic connections between J25 and some of the site’s Buddhist and Hindu monuments, a new history for Ellora is revealed. Moreover, artistic and devotional exchange continued across the site, specifically in the Jain and Hindu monuments, during the 9th century. This case study invites us to view Ellora's monuments as products of devotional interaction rather than dynastic sponsorship.