Early Giithaa sculptures

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Sat Dec 26 10:28:18 UTC 1998

On Dec. 26 N.Ganesan wrote:

>  I think this idea of Maitreya, the future Buddha (Messiah)
 > was borrowed into the majority religion, Hinduism.
 > The Hindu priest-philosophers transferred the Maitreya
 > concept onto Vasudeva Krishna. Bhagavad giithaa with the
 > theme of God talking to Man was created at that time.
 > This may have happened at the time Sanskrit sutras
 > of Mahayana, 1st or 2nd century AD.

 > Sankaracharya chose to use Giithaa in the war against Buddhists
 > because it is closer to Buddhist texts themselves (eg., Lotus sutra
 > and Giithaa, cf. H. Kern).

 > Before Sankara, in what texts other than Mahabharata, Giithaa is
 > mentioned? In India what are the early representations
 > in texts or sculptures of Krishna as a Charioteer?

 > Any suggestions?

    The pictures of KRSNArjunasaMvAda appear rather late in Indian art, it is
true. But does it mean that theism and bhakti are late phenomena in India, too?
By the way, KRSNa is historically THE FIRST of the Mbh personages to appear
in Indian art (Agathocles's coins and a terracotta from Sugh, both belonging
to the 2nd cent. BC). KRSNa then dominates in Hindu iconography of the KuSANa
period, and Govardhanadhara KRSNa theme is popular in sculpture of 4th-6th
AD (see V.P.Dwivedi. Mbh in Indian art. - In: Mahabharata: Myth and reality.
Differing Views. Delhi, 1976, pp. 126-134). Is not the bhakti cult of VAsudeva
evidenced in the same 2th century BC by the famous "Heliodoros" column? Is not
the theism of the GItA firmly rooted both in theistic tendencies of early
SAMkhya-Yoga and in theistic UpaniSads? Participants of this discussion are
probably right asserting that MASS bhakti cult of the Middle ages could
develop under some Buddhist or foreign influences. But this is not the case
with GItA's theism and bhakti.
        Best regards,


Yaroslav V.Vassilkov, Ph.D.
Department of South and SE Asian Studies
Institute of Oriental Studies
Dvortsovaya nab., 18,
St Petersburg, 191186,

Home address: Fontanka, 2,
kv. 617, St Petersburg,
191187, Russia
tel. +7 (812) 275 8179
e-mail: yavass at YV1041.spb.edu
        vassilkov at hotmail.com

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