[INDOLOGY] On Devadāru Forest/lingam origin narratives...

Shubha Pathak pathak at american.edu
Mon Apr 1 00:34:35 UTC 2024

Dear Westin et al.,

Two relevant secondary sources with which to start, if you have not already done so, are Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Śiva by Wendy Doniger [O'Flaherty] and Śiva in the Forest of Pines: An Essay on Sorcery and Self-Knowledge by Don Handelman and David Shulman.  I discuss both books in my article "Shifting Śāstric Śiva: Co-operating Epic Mythology and Philosophy in India’s Classical Period,” International Journal of Hindu Studies 27, no. 2 (2023): 173–212 (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11407-022-09337-8).


Shubha Pathak, PhD, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy and Religion
American University
Battelle-Tompkins 113
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016-8056

Phone: 202-885-2957<tel:202-885-2957>
Fax: 202-885-1094<tel:202-885-1094>
E-mail: pathak at american.edu<mailto:pathak at american.edu>
Web pages: http://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/pathak.cfm


From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Westin Harris via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2024 7:37 PM
To: INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] On Devadāru Forest/lingam origin narratives...

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Dear Indologists,

I thought there would already be a thread on this topic, but my searches of the archives came up fruitless.

I am looking to learn more about narratives of Śiva in the Devadāru forest (cavorting with the sage's wives and rebuking the sages) as an origin story for the worship of śivaliṅgas.

  *   What are the oldest datable examples of the Devadāru forest narrative and/as the origin story for liṅga worship? (Purāṇas or otherwise?)
  *   I have heard contemporary traditions (especially in the South) refer to this form of Śiva as Bhikṣāṭana. Is this epithet attested in the earliest sources, or does it develop later?
  *   I have also heard the Devadāru/Bhikṣāṭana Śiva associated with narratives of Śiva's penance after beheading Brahmā. Is the Devadāru forest narrative often associated with Śiva's brahmanicidal episode, or is this connection less common? (It seems to me that the Devadāru forest narrative already hinges on topoi like transgression and expiation, as Śiva rebukes the sages for their transgressions but then provides his liṅgam as a means to absolution, so I could see how the two vignettes might naturally overlap).

As a disclaimer, I fully understand that dating puranic stories is often a nonstarter. Therefore, speaking of "earlier" and "later," or "often" and "common," can already be problematic. Still, I am hardly an expert in the vast puranic corpus, so any help is much appreciated.

Thank you all.


Westin Harris
Ph.D. Candidate
Study of Religion
University of California, Davis

2021 Dissertation Fellow,
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies

Sarva Mangalam.
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