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

Westin Harris wlharris at ucdavis.edu
Tue Mar 26 23:37:10 UTC 2024

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 *śivaliṅga*s.

   - 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

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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