Date: Thu, 23 May 2013 14:51:15 +0200
SALAGRAMASILA: A STUDY OF SALAGRAMA STONES WITH TEXT AND TRANSLATION OF 'SALAGRAMAPARIKSA' (SANSKRIT, MIDDLE EAST)
- The salagrama is any stone which comes from a specific site called Salagramatirtha or Salagramaksetra, situated in the Mustang District of western Nepal, near the Tibetan border. The various interpretations of what particular stone it is form an important part of the thesis, the definition of the stone and its place of origin being crucial to understanding the object and its meaning. The differences in the interpretation of the salagrama between the late 17th century, when the Salagramapar(')iksa was composed, and the late 20th century, when archaic religion is being explores, are discussed. The secondary characteristic of the stone, the aperture, which it shares with the svayamatrnna pierced stone, important in the late Vedic Agnicayana sacrifice and with such other objects as amulets, has formed an important part of the paraphernalia of religion ever since the cup holes of a paleolithic burial. The salagrama's primary importance, however, is its provenance from a sacred place which represents the earth's navel (axis mundi). Therefore, the salagrama can be shown to be analogous to the primeval mound of the archaic cosmogony, and to be part of the complex which defines man's earliest religion as far as is known today. In this discussion, archaeological finds are utilized as texts to be interpreted, which I have done freely, although I have not breached the limits set in this field by those who are competent to explain these archaic documents. The Introduction begins with an inventory of literature relating to the salagrama and the facts to be culled from this literature. It includes Vedic texts describing the svayamatrnna, the earliest literary reference to pierced stones, and the Ghosundi-Hathibada inscription (first century B.C.) which may refer to worship of particular types of salagramas. References to salagrama itself by name are first found in the epic Mahabharata and become more frequent in the puranas, tantric texts, and Dharmasastras. The discussion continues with the Salagramapar(')iksa itself, Viramitrodaya, another important text which preceded it, ending with a contemporary Hindi text describing the pilgrimage to Salagramaksetra. Other topics touched upon include worship of the salagrama, its differences from image worship, and the importance of worship of aniconic images--what it explains about the nature of religion--as well as a discussion of who may worship the salagrama and how, the latter being the more important point.