Overview for The Sacred Landscape of Mundeshwari: The 'Oldest Living' Temple
Reputed to be one of the oldest living temples of the world, Mundeshwari is also the oldest temple of Nagar/North Indian style in the outskirts of Varanasi. Its significance increases further when one finds its composition to be governed by two diverse religious traditions—the 'Elite' and the 'Adivasi'. The shrine is an example of acculturation, and is a happy blending of the Brahmanical and Adivasi religious ideologies and practices. An ancient cultural outpost of Varanasi, Mundeshwari now forms part of Bihar state. However, the customs and religious traditions followed here are those of Kashi-kshetra. It thus adds a new dimension to the cultural and religious history of Varanasi, besides demonstrating the rich heritage of Bihar province.
The book not only documents the findings of epigraphic records and a large scatter of icons and fragments of shrines, which are in hundreds, but also incorporates views/interviews of the local inhabitants and the visitors, both of the adivasi and non-adivasi communities. Since the local inhabitants have always been the main custodians of this sacred landscape, ethnographic recordings add new facet to this study.
The present volume brings to light all the available information on the historical, ethnographic and archival records of Mundeshwari. Together with the data which has been assimilated by experts in the field of epigraphy, art history and ethnography, its interpretation in terms of reconstruction of the religious landscape adds further value to this study.
The documentation and detailed study of Mundeshwari compiled in this book would certainly be useful to the historians and researchers of cultural studies. The discussion and synthesis of the collected information from this Shiva-Shakti peetha has been weaved in a way that will provide an interesting and thought-provoking reading to the scholars.
Vidula Jayaswal (Author)
Grand daughter of (Late) Dr. K.P. Jayaswal, Dr. Vidula Jayaswal is presently teaching and guiding research in Ancient Indian History in general and Archaeology in particular at the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Dr. Jayaswal was selected by the Government of India under the National Scholarship Scheme to study abroad and received specialized training in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A. She also served the Archaeological Survey of India. Author of eight books, five in English â€“ Palaeohistory of India, Chopper-Chopping Component of Palaeolithic India, Kushana Clay Art, An Ethno Archaeological View of Indian Terracottas and Paisra: The Stone Settlement of Bhiar (last two in co-authorship) and three text books in Hindi-Bharatiya Itihas ke Adi Charan Ki Roop Rekha (Pura Prastar Yuga), Bharatiya Itihas Ka Madhya Prastar Yuga , and Bharatiya Itihas Ka Nav Prastar Yuga. She has also edited a proceeding of workshop which is published as Ancient Ceramics. Dr. Jayaswal has to her credit more than fifty research papers, which have been published in the proceedings of International Symposia and various publications of repute. Her noteworthy field investigations are excavations of prehistoric sites at Lahariandih in Mirzapur and Paisra in Munger districts and excavation of historical settlement at Bhitari, and, surveys of pottery and terracotta producing centres of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Her recent discovery of the Ancient Quarries of Asokan times and subsequent periods, near Chunar is a significant contribution to both Archaeology and History of Arts.
Arvind Kumar Singh (Author)
Arvind Kumar Singh spent his early life in the spiritual ambience of Bodh-Gaya. He received his schooling their. He did his Graduation in History (Hons.) from Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. He did his M.A. & M.Phil. from Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi. He was awarded Ph.D. degree of University of Delhi. He has presented his research papers at the National and International Conferences. Currently he is teaching at the Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi.
Meena Sharma (Author)
Dr. (Ms.) Meera Sharma received her doctoral degree (1988) from the Banaras Hindu University. She specializes in the Buddhist art and iconography. She has participated in a number of excavations, viz. Aktha, Ramnagar, Shooltankeshwar and Rajghat, conducted by the Department of A.I.H.C. & Archaeology of the Banaras Hindu University and Jnana-Pravaha, Varanasi. Her studies on the sculpture centres – Sarnath and Mathura, and interpretation of find-spot contexts of the icons from the religious settlements has added new direction to the study of ancient religious structures and establishments.