[INDOLOGY] Iconography of śāstras

Philipp Maas philipp.a.maas at gmail.com
Tue Mar 26 15:21:15 UTC 2024

Dear Colleagues,

On the outer cover of the printed edition of the *Nyāyabhāṣya* by
Padmaprasāda Śāstrī and Harirāma Śukla that was published as vol. 42 of the
Kashi Sanskrit Series (fourth ed. 1990
I found an iconographic depiction of the philosophical system of Nyāya as a
human figure with a lion face, holding a *sūtra* and a *dhvaja* in the
right and left hand, respectively (see attached image). The image is
accompanied by an *anuṣṭubh*-caption, which reads *atasīpuṣpasaṅkāśo nyāyo
jñeyo vipaścitā* / *siṃhāsya dakṣiṇe sūtraṃ dhvajaṃ vāmakare dadhan* //,
suggesting that the colour of the personified *nyāya*-system is light blue.

Quite interestingly, the printed edition of the *Mānavadharmaśāstra* together
with Kullūkabhaṭṭa’s commentary, which was like the before-mentioned
edition of the *Nyāyabhāṣya *published by the Chaukhambha Sanskrit
Sansthan, has a similar depiction of *dharmaśāstra* which also is
accompanied by a caption (see attached image).

I was completely unaware of any personifications and iconographic
representations of South Asian knowledge systems and wonder what the
source(s) of the stanza on Nyāya may be. Are these two cases of
personification and iconographic representation of knowledge systems
exclusively related to the Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan, or do they
represent a broader tradition?

I would greatly appreciate any help you could give me with this.

With many thanks in advance and best wishes,


PD Dr. Philipp A. Maas
Research Associate
Department of Indology and Central Asian Studies
University of Leipzig

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