Bhojshala

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Bhojshala, Dhar
Bhojshala, Dhar
Bhojshala, Madhya Pradesh
Bhojshala is an 11th century complex linked to Saraswati (above)

The Bhojshala (IAST: Bhojaśālā, sometimes Bhoj Shala, meaning 'Hall of Bhoja') is located in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh (India). It is the site of the early 11th century centre for Sanskrit studies and temple of Sarasvatī – the Hindu goddess of learning, music and arts – located in the hall's precincts. Bhojshala is attributed to celebrated King Bhoja of the Paramāra dynasty of central India, a great patron of education and arts, and to whom major Hindu Sanskrit works on poetics, yoga and architecture are attributed.[1] The term Bhojashala became linked to a later era mosque and tombs that exist immediately next to it, an association that started in early 20th century, though the Islamic structures were built between the 14th and 15th century.[1]

Bhojshala is also an archaeological site, one which is disputed between Hindus and Muslims. The site excavation since the 19th century has yielded information on medieval era Indian religions particularly of Hinduism and Jainism, as well as a goddess statue that was housed in the British Museum but whose current location is a mystery.[1] The site also houses the Kamal-Maula mosque with four Sufi tombs,[2] wherein the hypostyle mosque was built primarily from demolished temple pillars and parts around 1400 CE, while the tomb of Kamal al-Din Malawi (c. 1238-1330) is older.[3] The Muslims use the mosque for Friday prayers and Islamic festivals, while the Hindus pray on Tuesday. The Hindu also attempt to pray to goddess Saraswati at the site particularly on Vasant Panchami festival, and this been a source of Hindu-Muslim conflicts and occasional riots when Vasant Panchami falls on a Friday.[4][5][6]

History: King Bhoja[edit]

Raja Bhoj Statue on Upper Lake, Bhopal.

King Bhoja, who ruled between circa 1000 and 1055 in central India, is considered in the Hindu tradition as one of the exceptional kings.[7] He was a celebrated patron of arts, and out of reverence for him, Hindu scholars that followed traditionally attributed a large number of Sanskrit works on philosophy, astronomy, grammar medicine, yoga, architecture and other subjects to him. Of these, a well studied and influential text is in the field of poetics called Śṛṅgaraprakāśa.[7][8]

Along with his literary and art support, Bhoja began constructing a Shiva temple at Bhojpur. If it had been completed to the extent he planned, the temple would have been double the size of the Hindu temples at the Khajuraho Group of Monuments. The temple was partially completed, and the epigraphical evidence confirms that Bhoja founded and built Hindu temples.[7]

Bhoja's successor was king Arjunavarman (circa 1210-15). He and many others, in Hindu and Jain traditions, held Bhoja in such high regard that they stated or were revered as an reincarnation (rebirth) of Bhoja or Bhoja-like ruler.[7][9] Centuries later, Bhoja remained a revered figure as evidenced by Merutuṅga's Prabandhacintāmaṇi completed in the fourteenth century,[10] and Ballāla’s Bhojaprabandha composed at Varanasi in the 17th century.[11] This tradition continued, and in the 20th century, Hindu scholars described Bhoja as an example of the glorious past of their historic culture and a part of Hindu identity.[7][12]

The capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, is named after him, i.e. Bhoj-pal.[13]

Dhār and Inscriptions in the Bhojaśālā[edit]

One of the serpentine inscriptions found by K. K. Lele at Kamāl Maula

The archaeological site at Dhar and Bhojshala were among those that attracted early attention of colonial Indologists and historians. John Malcolm mentioned it in 1822, along with infrastructure projects such as dams planned and completed by King Bhoja.[14] Malcolm also mentioned that the materials from regional temples were appropriated by Muslim rulers to build their palaces and mosques, along with a note that links the slabs on the floor of Kamal Maula mosque to parts of older temples.[14]

In 1888, William Kincaid published his Indian Antiquary which makes no mention of the term Bhojshala, but does mention a Akl ka kua or "Well of Wisdom" in front of the tomb of Kamal al-Din. According to Michael Willis, Kincaid was not a sympathetic ethnographer, but the absence of the term Bhojshala in his text may be because there was "no living tradition about Bhojshala in the middle decades of the nineteenth century" among those who he interacted with in Dhar.[14]

The scholarly studies on the inscriptions of Bhojshala began in the 19th century, such as with the efforts of Bhau Daji in 1871.[14] In 1903, K. K. Lele, Superintendent of Education in the Princely State of Dhār, reported a number of Sanskrit and Prakrit inscriptions in the walls and floor of the pillared hall at Kamāl Maula mosque.[15]

The first of these records is a series of verses in Prakrit praising the Kūrma or Tortoise incarnation of the god Viṣṇu. The Kūrmaśataka is attributed to king Bhoja but the palaeography of the record suggests that this copy was engraved in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The text was published by Richard Pischel in 1905-06, with a new version and translation appearing in 2003 by V. M. Kularni.[16]

A second inscription is part of a drama called Vijayaśrīnāṭikā composed by Madana. The preceptor of king Arjunavarman, Madana bore the title 'Bālasarasvatī'.[17] The inscription reports that the play was performed before Arjunavarman in the temple of Sarasvatī. This suggests that the inscription could have come from the site of a Sarasvatī temple.[18] The variety and size of pillars, and the inscribed tablets recovered by Lele from the site, among them two serpentine inscriptions giving grammatical rules of the Sanskrit language, show that materials were brought from a wide area and a number of different structures.

The finds—and the serpentine grammatical inscriptions in the building—prompted Lele to describe the building as the Bhojśālā or Hall of Bhoja because king Bhoja was the author of a number of works on poetics and grammar, among them the Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa or 'Necklace of Sarasvatī'.[19] The term Bhojaśālā was taken up by C. E. Luard and published in his Gazetteer of 1908 although Luard noted that it was a misnomer.[20]

A third inscription which may come from the Bhojśālā—and which seems to have been removed from the site prior to the time of K. K. Lele—is the Rāüla vela of Roḍa, a unique poetic work in the earliest forms of Hindi. This inscription is now lying in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai.[citation needed]

Sarasvatī[edit]

Goddess Ambika from Dhar, whose inscription mentions Vagdevi (Sarasvati).[1]

After Lele and Luard had identified the Bhojaśālā with the Kamāl Maula masjid, O. C. Gangoly and K. N. Dikshit published an inscribed sculpture in the British Museum, announcing that it was Raja Bhoja's Sarasvatī from Dhār.[21] This analysis was broadly accepted and had a significant impact. The statue in the British Museum was identified as Bhoja's Sarasvatī in the years that followed.[22][1]

The inscription on the sculpture mentions king Bhoja and Vāgdevī, another name for Sarasvatī.[1] However, later study of the inscription by Indian scholars of Sanskrit and Prakrit languages such as Harivallabh Bhayani,[23] demonstrated that inscription records the making of a sculpture of Ambikā of Jainism after the making of three Jinas and Vāgdevī. In other words, according to Michael Willis, "although Vāgdevī is indeed mentioned, the inscription's main purpose is to record the making of an image of Ambikā, i.e. the sculpture on which the record is incised".[1][24][note 1]

The inscription on the statue previously with the British Museum indicates that the Vāgdevī at Dhār was dedicated to the Jain form of Saraswati deity. While Ambika statue was discovered at the Bhojshala site, the Vagdevi statue mentioned in the inscriptions no longer exists or is yet to be located. Other evidence suggests that the Hindu King Bhoja's eulogistic tablets in the Sarasvatī temple engraved with a poem are dedicated to a Jain Tirthankara.[1][26]

Current status[edit]

The monument has been under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India. Both Hindus and Muslims claim the site, and use it for their prayers. According to the Archaeological Survey of India provided guidelines, Muslims can pray on Friday and Islamic festivals, Hindus can pray on Tuesday and on the festival for goddess Saraswati namely Vasant Panchami, and the site is open to visitors rest of the week.[1][27]

Bhojshala is also an archaeological site, one which is disputed between Hindus and Muslims. The site excavation since the 19th century has yielded inscriptions and information about historic Indian religions particularly of Hinduism and Jainism, as well as a goddess statue that is now housed in British Museum.[1] The site also houses the Kamal-Maula mosque with four Sufi Islam tombs.[28] The tomb of Kamal al-Din Malawi (c. 1238-1330) is dated to the Muslim conquest of the Malawa region by the Delhi Sultanate, while the evidence confirms that the hypostyle mosque was built primarily from demolished temple pillars and parts around 1400 CE, in a manner similar to the Qutb Minar in Delhi.[29]

While both Muslims and Hindus have access to the site for prayers under the rules set by the Archaeological Survey of India, conflicts arise when the Vasant Panchami falls on Friday. The Archaeological Survey of India attempts to parcel few hours to both Hindus and Muslims on such days. However, this been a source of Hindu-Muslim conflicts and occasional riots when the religious group scheduled for the earlier time slot refuses to vacate the premises in time for the next.[30][31][27]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Willis provides the translation of the inscription as follows:[1][25]

    (1) auṃ | srīmadbhojanāreṃdracaṃdranagarīvidyādharī[*dha] rmmadhīḥ yo ----- [damaged portion] khalu sukhaprasthāpanā-
     (2) y=āp(sa)rāḥ [*|] vāgdevī[*ṃ] prathama[*ṃ] vidhāya jananī[m] pas[c] āj jinānāṃtrayīm ambā[ṃ] nityaphalā(d)ikāṃ vararuciḥ (m)ūrttim subhā[ṃ] ni-
     (3) rmmame [||] iti subhaṃ || sūtradhāra sahirasutamaṇathaleṇa ghaṭitaṃ || vi[jñā]nika sivadevena likhitam iti ||
     (4) saṃvat 100 91 [||*]
    Auṃ. Vararuci, King Bhoja's religious superintendent (Dharmmadhī) of the Candranagarī and Vidyādharī [branches of the Jain religion], the apsaras [as it were] for the easy removal [of ignorance? by...?], that Vararuci, having first fashioned Vāgdevī the mother [and] afterwards a triad of Jinas, made this beautiful image of Ambā, ever abundant in fruit. Blessings! It was executed by Maṇathala, son of the sūtradhāra Sahira. It was written by Śivadeva the proficient. Year 1091.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Willis, Michael (2012). "Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 22 (01): 129–153. doi:10.1017/s1356186312000041. 
  2. ^ Ahmad Nabi Khan (2003). Islamic Architecture in South Asia: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh. Oxford University Press. pp. 175–176. ISBN 978-0-19-579065-8. 
  3. ^ Willis, Michael (2012). "Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 22 (01): 134–135. doi:10.1017/s1356186312000041.  , Quote: "Next to the tomb is a spacious hypostyle mosque built primarily of reused temple parts (Fig. 3)."
  4. ^ Rajendra Vora; Anne Feldhaus (2006). Region, Culture, and Politics in India. Manohar. pp. 327–329. ISBN 978-81-7304-664-3. 
  5. ^ Indore celebrates Basant Panchmi, The Times of India, February 2 2017
  6. ^ Bhojshala-Kamal Maula mosque row: What is the dispute over the temple-cum-mosque all about?, India Today, Shreya Biswas (February 12, 2016)
  7. ^ a b c d e Willis, Michael (2012). "Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 22 (01): 129–131. doi:10.1017/s1356186312000041. 
  8. ^ Venkatarama Raghavan, Bhoja’s Śṛṅgaraprakāśa, 3rd rev. ed. (Madras, 1940).
  9. ^ E. Hultzsch, ‘Dhar Prasasti of Arjunavarman: Parijatamanjari-Natika by Mandana’, Epigraphica Indica 8 (1905-06): 96-122.
  10. ^ C. H. Tawney, The Prabandhacintāmaṇi or Wishing-stone of Narratives (Calcutta, 1901)
  11. ^ Louis H. Gray, The Narrative of Bhoja (Bhojaprabandha), American Oriental Series, vol. 34 (New Haven, 1950).
  12. ^ K. K. Munshi, ed. Śṛṅgāramañjarīkathā, Siṅghī Jaina granthamālā, no. 30 (Bombay, 1959): 90.
  13. ^ Swati Mitra (2009). Pachmarhi. Goodearth Publications. p. 71. ISBN 978-81-87780-95-3. 
  14. ^ a b c d Willis, Michael (2012). "Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 22 (01): 136–138. doi:10.1017/s1356186312000041. 
  15. ^ Willis, Michael (2012). "Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 22 (01): 141–143 with footnotes. doi:10.1017/s1356186312000041. 
  16. ^ R. Pischel, Epigraphia Indica 8 (1905-06); V. M. Kulkarni, Kūrmaśatakadvayam: two Prakrit poems on tortoise who supports the earth (Ahmedabad: L.D. Institute of Indology, 2003).
  17. ^ S. K. Dikshit, ed., Pārijātamañjarī alias Vijayaśrī by Rāja-Guru Madana alias Bāla-Sarasvatī (Bhopal, 1968).
  18. ^ Zafar Hasan, EIM (1909-10): 13-14, pl. II, no. 2; Annual Report on Indian Epigraphy (1971-72): 81, no. D. 73.
  19. ^ R. Birwé, ‘Nārāyaṇa Daṇḍanātha's Commentary on Rules III.2, 106-121 of Bhoja's Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 84 (1964): 150-62; the poetic text with this title, rather than the grammatical one, has been published as Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇam of King Bhoja, 3 vols., ed. and trans., Sundari Siddhartha (Delhi, 2009) ISBN 978-81-208-3284-8.
  20. ^ C. E. Luard, Western States (Mālwā). Gazetteer, 2 parts. The Central India State Gazetteer Series, vol. 5 (Bombay, 1908): part A, pp. 494-500.
  21. ^ O. C. Gangoly and K. N. Dikshit, ‘An Image of Saraswati in the British Museum’, Rūpam 17 (January, 1924): 1-2
  22. ^ C. Sivaramamurti, Indian Sculpture (New Delhi, 1961): 106.
  23. ^ Kirit Mankodi, ‘A Paramāra Sculpture in the British Museum: Vāgdevī or Yakshī Ambikā?’, Sambodhi 9 (1980-81): 96-103.
  24. ^ M. N. P. Tiwari, Ambikā in Jaina Art and Literature (New Delhi, 1989).
  25. ^ The text and further comments published in Michael Willis, ‘New Discoveries from Old Finds: A Jain Sculpture in the British Museum’, CoJS Newsletter (SOAS) 6 (2011): 34-6.
  26. ^ Tawney, Prabandhacintāmaṇi, p. 57.
  27. ^ a b Bhojshala-Kamal Maula mosque row: What is the dispute over the temple-cum-mosque all about?, India Today, Shreya Biswas (February 12, 2016)
  28. ^ Ahmad Nabi Khan (2003). Islamic Architecture in South Asia: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh. Oxford University Press. pp. 175–177. ISBN 978-0-19-579065-8. 
  29. ^ Willis, Michael (2012). "Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 22 (01): 134–135. doi:10.1017/s1356186312000041.  , Quote: "Next to the tomb is a spacious hypostyle mosque built primarily of reused temple parts (Fig. 3)."
  30. ^ Rajendra Vora; Anne Feldhaus (2006). Region, Culture, and Politics in India. Manohar. pp. 327–329. ISBN 978-81-7304-664-3. 
  31. ^ Indore celebrates Basant Panchmi, The Times of India, February 2 2017

External links[edit]

Research Resources[edit]