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Studies on Formation of Indian Culture by DD Kosambi

Studies on Formation of Indian Culture by DD Kosambi

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Myth and Reality
Studies in the Formation of Indian Cultureby D. D. KOSAMBI
First printed 1962I. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA1. For What Class?2. A Remarkable Interpolation3. Not Sufficient Unto the Purpose4. Why Krsna?5. When Does A Synthesis Work?6. The Social Functions of Bhakti7. The Gita TodayII. URVASI AND PURURAVAS1. Introduction2. Kalidasa's Treatment3. Modern Interpretations4. Versions of the Story5. Rgveda x 956. Commentary to RV x 957. Urvasi's Associates8. The Dawn-Goddess in the Rgveda9. Aryan or Pre-Aryan10. Goddess of Birth and DeathIII.
 
AT THE CROSSROADS : A STUDY OF MOTHER-GODDESS CULT SITES1. The Problem2.
 
The Mothers3.
 
Information from Field-work 4. Primitive Tracks
 
5. The Trade Routes6.
 
The Jatakas7.
 
Carudatta's SacrificeIV. PILGRIM'S PROGRESS: A CONTRIBUTION TO THE PREHISTORY OF THEWESTERN DECCAN PLATEAU1.
 
The End of the Pre-history in the Deccan2.
 
Cult Migrations, The Goddesses and Megaliths3.
 
Cult Migrations, The Gods4.
 
Microlith Tracks5.
 
Highlanders and Laplanders6.
 
Later Developments7.
 
Towards AgricultureV. THE VILLAGE COMMUNITY IN THE 'OLD CONQUESTS' OF GOA1. Land and People2. The Economic Situation3. Heterogeneity of the Population4.
 
The Feudal Period
INTRODUCTION
These essays have one feature in common, namely that they are based upon thecollation of field-work with literary evidence. Indian critics whose patriotism outstripstheir grasp of reality are sure to express annoyance or derision at the misplaced emphasis.Why should anyone ignore the beautiful lily of Indian philosophy in order to concentrateupon the dismal swamp of popular superstition ? That is precisely the point. Anyone withaesthetic sense can enjoy the beauty of the lily; it takes a considerable scientific effort todiscover the physiological process whereby the lily grew out of the mud and filth.This process of development cannot be understood by mere study of the philosophicsystems formerly current in India. The great Samkara, the Buddhists who preceded him,and the Vaisnavas who followed, managed to separate a higher from a lower plane of  belief. The higher level was purely ideal and theological, the region where the humanspirit could soar to ineffable heights of fancied perfection. The common herd mightwallow in their day-to-day ritual malpractices, upon the lower level. The idealist philosopher was himself excused for joining them in the ritual observances as long as thetheory was undefiled by any contact with reality. Only ideas and ideals existed frometernity, whereas the mundane life really did not exist at all on the plane that mattered.
 
1. Primitive elements survive in all religious beliefs shared by any considerable number of people. The prayer ''Give us this day our daily bread" is substantial enough to thegreater part of the world's population. It could not have originated before the late stoneage, for nothing like bread was known earlier. The idea of prayer to God the Father couldalso not have been conceived earlier than the pastoral age, in the food-gathering periodwhen the Mother Goddess was predominant. The late stone-age origin of the daily prayer does no fundamental damage to Christian pride. It is as easy to move in the oppositedirection with Rousseau and the romanticists as it is to sneer at primitive superstition.They believed that man in the state of nature had been free from the various misguided beliefs and ignoble actions of literate society. This does not need a Frazer or aMalinowski to disprove it. Our present task is to trace the primitive roots of some Indianmyths and ritual that survived the beginning of civilization and indeed survive to this day.This is not too difficult in a country where contemporary society is composed of elementsthat preserve the indelible marks of almost every historical stage. The neglect of suchanalysis leads to a ridiculous distortion of Indian history and to a misunderstanding of Indian culture, not compensated by subtle theology or the boasts of having risen abovecrass materialism.The religious observances of the various human groups in India, particularly those thatare lowest in the social, cultural and economic scale, show roughly the order in which the particular groups wore enrolled into a greater, productive society. In a general way, this istrue of many higher strata as well. The fossilized and stratified remnants of primitiveobservances, combined with caste and religion, hold a particular group together. Theobservances also located-the coherent group relatively to others within a highlycomposite society. Change of economic status is reflected in, and acted till recentlythrough some corresponding transformation in caste; sometimes by change in cult aswell. One of the main problems for consideration is: Why is a fusion of cults sometimes possible and why do cults stubbornly refuse to merge on other occasions? Naturally, thisquestion cannot be answered on the "highest plane” of Samkara and Ramanuja, for itsimply does not exist on that level. Cults do not clash by themselves. It is the people whoobserve the cults that find it impossible to come to terms. The followers of Samkara andRamanuja quarrelled bitterly on the worldly plane. It is very doubtful that they couldhave justified physical violence by the subtle theological differences between their twosystems. The theological subtle- ties which distinguish the two schools are difficultenough to cause any number of headaches; but there seems to be nothing in either systemas expounded by its great acarya which should have led to the breaking of heads.Siva grew out of rather primitive and aniconic cult-stones along several parallel tracks,into a sublimated highest god —for some people. At one stage his equivalent came intomore or less violent conflict with the various mother-goddesses who had previously beenthe senior deities. We find a naked three-faced god on Mohenjo-daro seals (fig. 1) whomight easily be a prototype of the modern Siva; but that deity wears buffalo horns on hisheaddress. It cannot be a mere accident that the pastoral buffalo-god Mhasoba is alsoidentified with the Mahisasura whom the goddess Parvati crushes to gain her titleMahisasura-mardini (fig 2). We shall see in one! of the present essay that Parvati asYogesvari is at times married to an equivalent of Mhasoba who begins to resemble adiluted form of Siva-Bhairava. This will cast some light upon the Kalighat painting andother icons where Parvati as Kali tramples (fig. 3) upon Siva's prostrate body, presumably

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