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The Hindu Temples in Southeast Asia: Their Role in Social Economic and Political Formations

Sachchidanand Sahai (Author)

Many thousand temples built within a time span of about thousand years, before the fourteen century, stand as witness to the creative genius of different communities of Southeast Asia. They also testify to the cultural dialogue between India and Southeast Asia centered on the architectural and planning experiences as coded in the silpasastra texts of India. 

The present monograph looks at the Khmer temples of Hindu inspiration spread over mainland Southeast Asia both at the level of ideology and praxis, and attempts an integrated account of their symbolical as well as functional aspects. In the selection and regrouping of temples for the present study the three key words-social, economic and political formations have been the driving motive. The temples or the group of temples which explicate their role in these basic formations of human civilization have, therefore been taken up in this monograph. 

This monograph offers a chapter devoted to various aspects of temples in the Khmer mainland of Southeast Asia. The first chapter examines the evolution of temples in the region from the open air sacred spaces. The following chapter sees the temple as an architectural search for the centre, analyses the ideology of Meru and presents 13 examples of temple mountains. The temple's catalytic role in the formation of village and city forms the theme of the next two chapters. The temple based process of the formation of capital and means of production concerns the following chapter. The vital role of temple in manpower mobilization for agricultural expansion has been closely examined in the succeeding chapter. The next chapter examines the interlink between water and architecture with a particular reference to the hydraulic debate. The temple as a Sanskritizing agent forms the theme of the last chapter. 

This narrative has developed from a synchronic and simultaneous reading of verbal and visual languages.


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About the author

Sachchidanand Sahai

Professor Sachchidanand Sahai (born 1941) served as Pro-Vice Chancellor, Magadh University, Bodh-Gaya in 2001. Currently he is Member, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi. Professor Sahai obtained his M.A. degree in Ancient Indian History, culture and Archaeology from Banaras Hindu University, with the award of A.S. Altekar Gold Medal in 1962. His researches on ancient Cambodia under the guidance of eminent French savant George Coedes in the University of Paris (Sorbonne) during 1965-69 lead to a doctoral degree and the publication of a pioneering work Les institutions politiques et I’ organization administrative du Cambodge ancien, EFEO, Paris, 1971. Professor Sahai was offered a Fulbright post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell Fellowships at Australian National University and Maison de Science de I’Homme, Paris. Under the auspices of Indian Council for Cultural Relations Professor Sahai worked as Visiting Professor of Asian Civilization at Sisavangvong University, Vientiane, Laos. He also worked as Research Professor at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. Professor Sahai is the author of a number of books and research papers on the cultural history of South East Asia. He is the founder of the South East Asian Review and the International Conference on Thai Studies.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Hindu Temples in Southeast Asia: Their Role in Social Economic and Political Formations
Format Hardcover
Date published: 15.09.2012
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173054280
length xxiv+368p., 97 Illustrations; Colour and B/W; 69 figs., Maps.