Re: [INDOLOGY] Was Aśoka an iconoclast?

Nagaraj Paturi nagarajpaturi at
Fri May 26 17:46:23 UTC 2017

The theory that idol worship in Hinduism is a borrowing from the idol
worship in Buddhism, if already made, or if can be made, leads to very
interesting theoretical consequences: one of them being that the aspect of
Hinduism that is attacked by all the anti-idolatory religions and all the
anti-idolatry reformationist 'progressive' modern religious movements is
borrowed into Hinduism from a cultural tradition that is liked by many
modern 'progressive' movements for the 'progressive' aspects in it.

On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 10:14 PM, Artur Karp <karp at> wrote:

> Dear Matthew,
> >> Asoka after embracing Buddhism discontinued this practice and removed
> the idols of such deities.
> The meanig of the sentence is clear. According to Dr. Ambedkar Aśoka
> 'removed the idols of such deities'.
> Removed - gently?
> The problem is that no edict mentions Aśoka stating:  "As I venerate the
> Buddha, the Enlightened One, there is no need to worship any other deity".
> The question of 'the emergence of images and idols in India" apart what
> can be seen here is an example of falsification of historical record, done
> purposefully, with political agenda in mind.
> Artur
> 2017-05-26 18:21 GMT+02:00 Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at>:
>> I have no idea about just what Dr. Ambedkar may have had in mind in
>> regard to Asoka,
>> but I do think that the question of the emergence of images and idols in
>> India should be empirically focused.
>> See, for instance, Michael Willis,
>> The Archeology of Hindu Ritual: Temples and the Establishment of the Gods
>> (Cambridge 2009).
>> Although Willis prudently avoids the question of beginnings, some
>> interesting suggestions may be gleaned
>> from section 2.7 "From Private Sacrifice to Public Spectacle," pp.
>> 113-122.
>> One may also wish to consult, for evidence of deity-worship in early
>> Buddhism, Robert DeCaroli,
>> Haunting the Buddha: Indian Popular Religion and the Formation of
>> Buddhism (OUP 2004).
>> Matthew
>> Matthew Kapstein
>> Directeur d'études,
>> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
>> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
>> The University of Chicago
>> ------------------------------

Nagaraj Paturi

Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.

BoS, MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra

BoS, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Veliyanad, Kerala

Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies

FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,

(Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

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