[INDOLOGY] Aśokan formula problem?
karp at uw.edu.pl
Sun Apr 27 07:18:11 EDT 2014
Recently, I came upon a claim (not published so far) that the Aśokan
formula *(X-number)var**ṣā**bhi**ṣ**iktena* [like in RE I, Girnar,
*dbādasavās**ābhisitena*] does not convey the information on the number of
years since the king's anointment, but, rather, the information on the
successive number of *abhishekas* the king would perform on every
anniversary of his rule's inauguration.
So - not "the year X since my inauguration", but, against the standard
renderings: "the year of my Xth *abhisheka*".
Is there any linguistic reason for this kind of the formula's
reinterpretation? The compound's structure?
While looking through materials I have on hand, I came across the following
statement in Jan Gonda's 1957 paper on Indian kingship (*Ancient Indian
kingship from the religious point of view*, Numen, Vol. 4, Fasc. 2, p.
<<As the Asvamedha is the king of sacrifices 701), and as on
the other hand the sacrificer, i.e. the king, is identical with
the asvamedha, certain peculiarities of this ritual are stated to
correspond to certain qualities of the king. Thus he is disposed
to be "strong in arms", because the front legs of two goats
sacrificed during the asvamedha are tied - "he thereby lays strength
into the front legs" 702) and strong in thighs, for similar
reasons. Before we leave this point we should call attention to
an important statement made in the Visnudharmottara-purana 703). *On
every anniversary of the first 'coronation' * *the king should
repeat the rites*; this leads to welfare, to increase of the
country, to the destruction of the enemies and so on. *Then the
'inauguration' has become cyclic*, annually carrying the ruler and
his realm beyond a difficult stage, and recreating the beneficial
power inherent in kingship [boldfaces mine, A. K.]>>
Is there - apart from the Vishnudharmottara-purana fragment quoted by Gonda
- any evidence for such an annual royal ritual to be found anywhere in the
corpus of Śastric/Buddhist literature?
Any comment would be much appreciated.
Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit and Pali (ret.)
South Asian Studies Deptt
University of Warsaw
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