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The Pancavaranastava of Aghorasiva

Dominic Goodall (Editor) Nibedita Rout (Editor) R. Sathyanarayanan (Editor) S.A.S. Sarma (Editor) T. Ganesan (Editor) S. Sambandhasivacarya (Editor)
Synopsis The present volume contains an annotated critical edition of a once celebrated, though now little known liturgical hymn in one hundred verses by the most famous of the bearers of the initiatory name Aghorasiva. This twelfth-century theologian of Chidambaram is known both for his exegetical works (commentaries of his survive on the Mrgendravrtti, the Dvisatikalottaratantra, the Sarvajnanottaratantra and on several small theological treatises) and for his ritual manuals: the Mrgendrapaddhati, in anustubh verse, and the prose Kriyakramadyotika. This last work, completed in 1157 AD, remains one of the principal authorities for the performance of ritual in South Indian Saiva temples today. In his Pancavaranastava, “Praise of the Five Circuits” or “Praise of the One Surrounded by Five Circuits”, Aghorasiva recounts how the central deity of the Saiva Siddhanta should be visualized in worship, surrounded by a court of divinities placed around him in five concentric rings. All detail about the performance of external ritual is omitted, and each prescription for visual prayer is elegantly formulated as an expression of veneration. At the centre of the space of worship, which is typically either the worshipper’s own heart or the crown of the linga, the initiate is to see the benign, white, consortless, five-faced and ten-armed Sadasiva enthroned on a white, eight-petalled lotus blossom. Ranged immediately around him are anthropomorphic forms of the mantras that are his heads and body-parts, then the souls that administer the universe, then the members of his family, then the divinities that protect the directions and finally the anthropomorphized weapons of those protectors. Plentiful annotation and a selection of photographs help the reader to follow the editors’ exploration of the relations between Saiddhantika iconographic prescriptions and sculptural realization, particularly that of the Tamil-speaking South, where Saiddhantika forms of religion are believed long to have predominated. This volume is the first published fruit of a collaboration that took shape in the context of a Saiva reading group which began meeting daily in the Pondicherry Centre of the EFEO in 2002.
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About the author

Dominic Goodall

Dominic Goodall was educated at Ampleforth College and at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he read Sanskrit. Presently he is attached to the Institut Francais de Pondichery in South India and is working with the manuscript collection there.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Pancavaranastava of Aghorasiva
Format Softcover
Date published: 01.01.2004
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 285539662X
length 237p., Figures; Plates; Tables; Notes; Index; 25cm.